A Crappy Meal That Stays With You

By Published on .

Client: McDonald's
Agency: Burrell Communications, Leo Burnett USA and DDB Worldwide
Star Rating: 2

It can't be the the advertising. It just can't.

It's got to be those salads, which finally offer a palatable option

Ronald McDonald poses as a rock star in one of the new ads.
for McDonald's customers who wish to imagine they're eating healthily. Hard to see why fried chicken on a lettuce bed is vastly more nutritional than a cheeseburger, but never mind; the salads are going gangbusters. McGriddle breakfasts, too.

Or it could be the floors not being filthy. After a concerted effort to improve the store environment, your chances of having an Unhappy Meal sullenly thrown at you are noticeably reduced.

Can't be the insipid ads
But to credit the ad campaign? How? The commercials are so insipid and utterly the opposite of what they're trying to be -- i.e., cool -- that we simply can't believe "I'm Lovin' It" is propellin' it.


OK, maybe the slogan/jingle does have something to do with four consecutive quarters of growth. We were dubious, mainly because of the phrase's odd first-person construction and association with the late-'90s Ecstasy scene. But it would appear we were delusional on both counts. "I'm Lovin' It" has clearly transcended its grammatical limitations and sketchy past to become a legitimate catchphrase, associated with nothing more unwholesome than a Double Cheeseburger.

We do believe in jingles and their ability to penetrate defenses impregnable to other weapons. We personally can sing Sheraton's toll-free reservations number and one of the Buster Brown shoe jingles ("Does your shoe have a boy inside? What a funny place for a boy to hide ...") although neither has aired since the Nixon administration .

Furthermore, the three silly little words do accurately characterize the guilty pleasure of giving in to a Crappy Meal -- at least until the stuff hits bottom, whereupon the guilt and indigestion begin to linger. So, yeah, historians take note: WE WERE WRONG.

But, please, God, don't let us have been wrong about the rest of the pablum that McDonald's agencies continue to foist off on us as advertising. For instance, in the latest pool of 13 spots: "Hangin' with Ronald," a Leo Burnett spot that portrays the kids' icon as a rocker. Pitiful. Next to rockin' Ronald, the Archies are the Velvet Underground.

Big Macs and hip-hop
And what about "Fuel," from Burrell Communications, which persists in trying to make a Big Mac suitable subject matter for hip-hop? Yo, yo: It isn't. Pop a cap in rockin' Ronald to escalate an East Coast-West Coast clown war and maybe we can talk.

The most engaging new spot, Burnett's "Ball Bag," about an impromptu shopping-mall soccer game, also happens to be a direct lift from a Nike ad featuring the Brazilian national team. DDB Worldwide's "First Fries," about sisters from rural China coming to the big city, is saddled with an unintended message: Join the Global Economy and Become Instantly Selfish. And dRM DDB's Spanish-language "She's Mine" -- about guys ogling a chica caliente who ... are you ready? ... has a baby! -- is more Mentos than Mentos.

Jingle-conveyance mechanisms
But maybe they aren't meant to be advertising, so much as jingle-conveyance mechanisms -- much as McDonald's fries convey oil and salt. Yeah, that's it: This stuff is to advertising as McDonald's is to food -- a Crappy Meal that stays with you whether you like it or not.

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