McDonald's removes its coronavirus message featuring separated golden arches

Brand had altered iconic mark in Brazilian campaign to encourage safety for all during coronavirus pandemic, but some, including Bernie Sanders, didn't appreciate it

Published On
Mar 20, 2020

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Previously, Slovenia-based creative director Jure Tovrljan reimagined the logos of famous brands including Nike, Starbucks and Mastercard in light of the coronavirus pandemic. But McDonald’s reworked its iconic mark, the Golden Arches, for real.

Agency DPZ&T teamed with McDonald’s Brazil to reconceive the Golden Arches in pulled-apart form to encourage consumers to keep each other safe through social distancing. According to the shop, the the move is meant to convey the idea that we are "separated for a moment so that we can always be together."

Though at the restaurants themselves the arches remained the same, the new “distanced” version appeared on all of the brand’s Brazilian social accounts, including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  

McDonald's Separated Arches


Soon after Ad Age featured the idea, it began to draw criticism, with some questioning how the brand has been treating its own workers or painting it as an opportunistic, awards-baiting move. Even presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders called out the fast feeder. 



A few days after we featured the campaign, McDonald's Brazil removed the separated arches from its social media accounts. The Instagram account had also featured an animation of the arches separating to promote the social distancing message. That has now been replaced with a different animated video promoting McDonald's delivery and drive-thru, the message that McDonald's is currently disseminating in the U.S. market in a campaign from Wieden + Kennedy New York.

Ad Age reached out to the agency about the responses but did not hear back. Ad Age also reached out to McDonald's for comment and is awaiting response.

While viewers might be more receptive to independent creative ideas like Tovrljan's altered logos, it seems brands themselves must be extremely cautious about how their messages could be received in this time of crisis. Already, we've seen companies like Cadbury, KFC and others have to pull ads or change their media plans because their messages seem to appear tone-deaf or insensitive given the current environment.