McDonald's is not the first marketer to ask bands to play a South by Southwest showcase for free, but the juxtaposition of the ask and the chain's usual enormous ad spending seems to be going sour.
After the company asked rising duo Ex Cops to play in exchange for exposure and free food, the band took to its Facebook page:
In lieu of being paid like a real artist, or anyone who is employed to do a service, McDonald's assures us that we will 'be featured on screens throughout the event, as well as POSSIBLY mentioned on McDonald's social media accounts like Facebook (57MM likes!)
It is a horrifying and gross reality when one sees the true nature of corporations and their pathetic attempts to achieve relevance with millennials.
McDonald's said it wasn't asking anything unusual. "We follow the same standard protocol as other Brands and sponsors by inviting talented and emerging musicians to join us at the SXSW Festival," it said in a statement, which also included the jokey hashtag "#slownewsday." It had to give the same statement to Gawker, Stereogum, Rolling Stone and many, many others.
It may be a measure of a marketer's disconnect with millennials how much complaining goes on when it asks a band to lend it some cool for free.