Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'm really, really hating it

For a long time, McDonald's was not just the unquestioned leader in its industry, it was also responsible for a lot of memorable ads. The last couple of years... not so much. First we had this ridiculousness, then we had the biggest asshole in commercial history, and then we had... hand dancing. Oh, did we ever have hand dancing.

Yet overall I would still have said that McDonald's was probably the least offensive ad maker in its cohort, if only because of sheer volume - yeah, the coffee guy is a huge asshole, but it's not like that was the only ad McDonald's was running. Recently, though, they've just gone completely off the rails.

For instance, what the hell is this?

Let me say right off the bat that I LOATHE the entire "the simple joy of X" campaign. I hate everything about it. The "simple joy" of cheap, shitty food cranked out by minimum-wagers on behalf of a multinational corporation? Fuck off. But that's just the start of the indignities perpetrated by this series of ads.

Husband: "I'm home! ...oh."
Wife: "Where were you?"
Husband: "Uh, I was just in the car."
Wife: "The car? What's that on your collar?"
Husband: "Hm? Oh... tie?"
Wife: "Why do you seem happy?"
Husband: "I'm not..."
Wife: "Come here."
Husband: "Okay."
Wife: [smells him] "Mint. Wow."
Husband: "I had a Shamrock Shake."
Wife: "I hate you."
Husband: "And I got one for you, too..."
Wife: "I love you!"

This is deranged. This is mental patient level shit. The wife almost certainly has some sort of personality disorder, probably something in Cluster B. Also, she mouths "I love you" at the shake as she walks away. She has PROBLEMS. But McDonald's doesn't seem to see anything wrong here. To them, this is perfectly acceptable behavior where the Shamrock Shake is concerned. See:

Announcer: "The magical minty flavor you'll covet with all your heart."

GET. THE. FUCK. OVER. YOURSELVES. I guess it's probably hard not to be supremely arrogant and self-centered when you're a company like McDonald's. They are the dominant global force in fast food. In 2010, McDonald's had revenues of more than $24 billion, a figure greater than the gross domestic products of nearly 100 countries. So, you could argue, McDonald's doesn't really have anything left to sell. They could never run another ad and they'd probably do just fine. And when they run ads implying that people are functionally addicted to their food, I guess they have the sales figures to back that up. But FUCK is it annoying.

What's really grating is the straight-facedness of it all. These commercials seem designed to appeal to a younger crowd, and they have the vibe of post-modern ads that are all about joking and almost playfully undermining the product. But if there's one thing McDonald's does not do, it's undermine its products. No, McDonald's inflates them to almost godlike statures.

THIS IS ANNOYING. It is annoying and terrible. This is a lot like that "bigger than the Big Mac" ad from five years ago that was actually the first McDonald's ad to make this site. See, McDonald's, here's the thing. You're really famous. Everyone recognizes the arches, everyone knows the Big Mac song in spite of the fact that it hasn't been the centerpiece of a campaign in like decades. But NO ONE uses your food as a reference point. NO ONE. "It's the Egg McMuffin of X" is not something that ANYONE has EVER said in ANY context, outside of the actors during the filming of this commercial. And are there really even people who think of the Egg McMuffin as the most delicious food item ever invented, such that this ad would begin to make a lick of sense? I feel sad for them, if so.

You can't even claim it's tongue in cheek. It's not tongue in cheek. McDonald's has the clout to say that their products are fantastic and addictive and world-defining, and they are totally serious about it. Maybe they're not wrong. But it's extremely obnoxious.

My two least favorite McDonald's ads at the moment, of course, I can't find on YouTube (not copies worth posting, anyway). If anyone can turn up a decent copy of the ad with the two old guys or the "I've been around" ad, let me know.


Anonymous said...

This is the Egg McMuffin of ad-critiquing blogs.

Kunk7 said...

What really bothers me about the Shamrock Shake ad: what is this guy's motivation? If he knows his wife is a deranged Shamrock Shake Psycopath (McD's should trademark that), why hide the shake in the first place? Just give her the fucking shake, man. She's gonna kill you!

I get that they're trying to play the "wife suspects his husband is cheating" cliche. But that's fucking stupid, too. What does that premise have to do with food? Why would any of this compel me to buy food at all?

Then they slap it all together and none of it makes any fucking sense. It's infuriating.

Windier E. Megatons said...

Yeah, I had the same thought about "Why is he even hiding it?" and then forgot to mention it in the post. I have a longstanding hatred of commercials that think it's perfectly okay to suspend all logic and reason just in service of a joke, especially when that joke is BARELY even a joke, as is the case here.

James Allen said...

Very informative post, I live in UK and feel we miss out a lot as all the major bookish events occur in the US. Even the events that do occur over here would be impossible for me to attend so I have to make do with making individual, personal connections.
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