McDonald's Hits a Nerve With 'Signs' Ad

Many offended, say Golden Arches is exploiting national tragedies
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Suggested by ivan
Posted Jan 13, 2015 4:16 PM CST

(Newser) – McDonald's rolled out a new advertising campaign on Sunday—called "Signs," it features a kids' choir singing "Carry On" by fun as Mickey Dee's billboards flash messages referencing 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, acts of God, and anniversaries and births—and the barrage of reaction it's receiving seem to fall into a few main camps:

  • Ad execs are lovin' it: "I thought the ad was awesome. It's clear that all the billboards were real. It was demonstrating that McDonald's is Americana," one tells CNN. It's "incredibly heartwarming," says another.
  • The many people who hate it: "Maybe instead of making that horrifyingly cynical #GoldenGlobes commercial, McDonald's could pay employees a living wage? #ImNotLovingIt," tweeted comedian Eugene Mirman, per CNN, while another labeled it "more tasteless than the McRib." It's a "disarming minute of mushy corporate propaganda," said the Washington Post, beneath a headline that labeled it "tone deaf."

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  • Those who think it's effective: While she rages against the "playing of the 9/11 card—especially something used to peddle Big Macs," Mary Beth Williams writes at Salon, she acknowledges that the spot plays to those McD's that "on a local level, have deep value and meaning to a community. McDonald’s says that 'Every sign tells a story'—but the company also no doubt knows that story is not aimed at everyone."
  • And those only too eager to mock it: "There is one problem," as Matt Wilstein at Mediaite puts it: "It is way too easy to parody." A parody ad (NSFW) popped up near-instantaneously, featuring signs proclaiming "Try our new crap" and "Now hiring losers" (those are among the tamer signs).
McDonald's itself acknowledges the ad "sparked commentary from consumers, and we're happy to see that," adding that it welcomes the "strong praise" and "negative comments," and will "continue to challenge ourselves to push boundaries." (Read more McDonald's stories.)

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