Once registered, you can:

  • - Read additional free articles each month
  • - Comment on articles and featured creative work
  • - Get our curated newsletters delivered to your inbox

By registering you agree to our privacy policy, terms & conditions and to receive occasional emails from Ad Age. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Are you a print subscriber? Activate your account.

Bob writes new McD's jingle, (but he's not smiling about it)

By Published on .

The new McDonald's campaign from DDB Worldwide, Chicago, is so nice and cheerful. It's filled with the typically heartwarming slice-of-life stuff we've grown so accustomed to. And the new theme, "We love to see you smile," is a worthy reflection of the brand's upbeat legacy.

But something's missing. The jingle! Where's the ol' reliable, buoyant, warm and fuzzy McDonald's jingle? It's so conspicuous by its absence. Therefore, as a gift to McDonald's in honor of its restaging as a made-to-order fast-food chain, here's a little tune of our own composition.

We call it "The `We Hate to Smile' Song":

Forget the smile. Forget the laughs./We ring you up with pictographs.

The floor is filthy. The toilet's worse./We're the rudest in the universe.

Chorus: Smile! We're in denial. We think saying it must make it true.

What we love to see is per-store sales, so we're lying to ourselves and you!

You want happy? Just kiss our butts./ We take your cash, but hate your guts.

The closest thing to "Thanks!" you'll get/is an outstretched hand and a Beanie pet.

Chorus: Smile! We're in denial. We think saying it must make it true.

What we love to see is per-store sales, so we're lying to ourselves and you!

See what we're getting at? The ads themselves are very nice, capturing both the highly saturated McDonald's-is-part-of-your-life schmaltz and communicating the benefits of the new made-to-order computer system. Furthermore, the tagline is certainly technically true; they'd love to see us smile. It's part of the Ray Kroc philosophy.

The problem is, it's also a pipe dream. Today's McDonald's experience is nothing even minimally reflective of Kroc's core values. Indeed, service, cleanliness and friendliness have so deteriorated at the chain that computerized order processing will have negligible effect on the customer experience. The company is making a lot of noise about increased training of its 600,000 employees, but at the moment it is far away from instilling service values among its crews. The full-employment economy only makes matters worse, providing as a hiring base those who hitherto had ranged from marginal to hard-core unemployable.

That, of course, is a force beyond the chain's control. But it is also a situation the company has greatly exacerbated by not policing -- or even cutting loose -- franchisees who fail to enforce standards.

In any event, whatever or whoever may be to blame for the notorious McDonald's Unhappy Meal, this campaign may be a great mistake, because to anyone who has ever had a Big Mac flung at them by a sullen counter clerk -- i.e., everyone -- it rings so preposterously false.

The commercials are sweet (and so is the wonderful, grin-enhanced Golden Arches logo), but the promise is laughable. If you advertise smiles and don't deliver smiles, what you will get is frowns.

How many advertisers learned that lesson the hard way? From Chevrolet to Kmart to Holiday Inn to United, we've seen the folly of premature self-congratulation. With its daunting training challenge, the stagnancy of per-store growth and the valuation of the euro, the company has enough problems right now.

The last thing it needs is McBacklash.

Smile! We're in denial. We think saying it must make it true.

What we love to see is per-store sales, so we're lying to ourselves and you!

Corrections: Due to scandalous malfeasance by a cabal of incompetent boobs -- or through our own errors, we're not sure -- the star rating from last week's Budweiser review was incorrect. The Cannes Grand Prix winner should have had 31/2 stars.

In the previous week, Ad Review's eighth principle of un-terrible advertising was also mistakenly truncated. It should have read: "The pen is mightier than the sword, but only if it has a point." Please clip this correction and paste it in the appropriate place in your Ad Review scrapbook.

Most Popular
In this article: