What’s the big deal with the McDonald’s ad?

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in ComLead, Integrated Marketing Communication

What’s the big deal with the McDonald’s ad?

Apparently there’s been some controversy over the new McDonald’s “Signs” ad that aired Sunday night during the Golden Globes. If you haven’t seen the commercial yet, check it out here, but just a forewarning it’s going to end and you’ll probably still be waiting for the controversial part.

Some people have found the ad to be offensive, claiming that McDonald’s is profiting from exploiting lost lives. I don’t think that was McDonald’s intention. What I do think their intention was, and what they successfully achieved, is starting a conversation about their brand. They used sentiment; a staple of McDonald’s advertising, to tap into people’s emotions and get them talking. And that works in advertising. It may not necessarily translate right away into people flooding McDonald’s Drive-Thru for a Big Mac, but over time it will certainly pay off for them. Dr. Catherine Foster comments on this stating:

I don’t think this ad is directed towards selling hamburgers, but with shaping an image. This ad shows McDonald’s not as a corporate monolith, but as a collection of hometown-owned and –operated businesses that all just happen to carry the same brand name. It presents your local McDonald’s as a part of your community, knowing and caring about babies being born, and recovering from adversity, and 95th birthdays.

I don’t think I’m alone here in wondering why this is being made into such a big deal. WYRK this morning posted a poll titled “Do You Find This McDonald’s Ad Offensive or Heartwarming?” and  I think it’s safe to say that this is a classic example of the 2% of people who have a problem making a ruckus. It’s almost as if people are looking for a reason to have a problem with McDonald’s because their food is notoriously known for being unhealthy, and that’s besides the point.



Dr. John Dahlberg feels similarly saying,

I’m not quite sure what is controversial here. Maybe it’s a little sappy and self-serving, but that’s what a lot of advertising is and certainly that approach isn’t foreign to McDonalds. I don’t see this as especially creative, but that isn’t the point.

If you’re interested in reading more about the controversy this ad started in the media, this article by Huffington Post gives a lot of good background about the situation. Hopefully McDonald’s finds the juicy information they’re looking for through the conversation they’ve started!

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