Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

It used to be that businesses swore by their own neutrality.

Don't ask them about their politics. Don't ask them about the stances. They're here to sell and that's all.

Over the last few years, however, the fractiousness of society and the venal incompetence of politicians has forced many business owners into overt positions.

I can't remember, though, a time when a vast multinational corporation stepped into the political arena in such a direct and annoying manner as McDonald's has managed in India.

The country is currently enjoying elections. The process takes a month.

So, in a Hyderabad McDonald's, the corporation set up a stunt in order to show -- or, some might say, lecture -- Indians on the importance of voting.

As customers came in and ordered their food, the McDonald's employees ignored their wishes and gave them something else.

The customers, understandably, weren't so happy.

Why was this happening?

Finally, one of the McDonald's employees declares to a female customer: 

Ma'am, you didn't vote, right? If you don't vote, you lose your right to choose.

Well, thank you for that insight, sir, but I came here for a McChicken, not a McLecture.

Of course this is constructed for (a certain sort of) entertainment.

It's true that of the 900 million eligible Indian voters, 280 million didn't bother voting in the last elections.

How, though, must it feel for Indian voters to receive this finger-wagging from a U.S. corporation?

It's not as if U.S. democracy is a perfectly-oiled machine.

Why, here's a headline from the Pew Research Center: "U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout."

This doesn't seem to have deterred McDonald's. 

It didn't merely offer this stunt, but also special discounts on its McSpicy Chicken and McSpicy Paneer Burgers during election time.

For business owners, politics has become far more painful over the last few years.

How do you create a good working atmosphere if your employees have severely divergent views?

How should you react when some employees pressure you to make public stances on socio-political issues?

There really are no simple answers. At heart, you're managing people and you have to stress principles they all can follow.

Some might say that McDonald's wasn't taking a specific political stance here. It's not as if the ad favored one political party or another.

I'm not sure, though, that annoying people in a slightly Big Brotherish way was the best approach to make the point. 

I wonder if McDonald's will try the same sort of stunt in the 2020 U.S. elections.

Published on: Apr 23, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.