(Reuters) - McDonald's Corp (MCD) will give away more than a million breakfast McMuffins across China on Monday, a few days after Chinese state television airs its annual expose on corporate malpractice to mark World Consumer Rights Day.
The promotion, the U.S. fast food chain says, is purely coincidental.
On Friday, news program "3.15" - one of China's most widely watched TV shows - will name and shame companies that it says violated the trust of consumers in a nation forecast to become the world's largest retail market in three years.
The TV show, similar to U.S. CBS network's "60 Minutes", often catches companies off guard, and the fallout can sting as McDonald's itself found out last year when it was criticized on food safety. McDonald's apologized, and its shares fell as China's army of microbloggers unleashed their anger online.
"The minute there are questions about your practices that appear in any way credible, that can be devastating to consumer trust and extremely difficult to get back," said Shanghai-based James Roy, a senior analyst at China Market Research Group.
While most firms deny their actions are connected to the TV show, "3.15" appears to have prompted a spike in corporate good behavior in China aimed at balancing any negative press.