Whether you watched football or the Golden Globes yesterday, you were likely exposed to a new McDonald's ad that featured inspirational messages ("BOSTON STRONG," "HUG THOSE DADS," etc.) from the fast-food company's readerboards around the country. (We made our own, more honest version of the ad, which you can watch below.) This ad is bullshit.
Scoring it with a beyond-corny children's-choir version of fun.'s "Carry On" is bad enough. (Good luck maintaining that indie cred, Nate Ruess.) But using 9/11 and other various national (and personal) tragedies to sell hamburgers is a craven manipulation that, of course, is working perfectly.
But when we say this ad is bullshit, that's not just a personal judgment. While McDonald's has set up a Tumblr to "tell the stories behind the signs," one sign in particular—the one at the top of this post—is never explained. Why? Because that photo comes from an ancient Angelfire website about some dude's hiking trip in New Hampshire. That McDonald's does not even exist anymore. It is a failed McDonald's. It closed years ago. It takes a special level of incompetence to fail as a McDonald's proprietor. It takes a special level of marketing-asshole dishonesty to sell that failure back to us as a triumph of the human spirit. (Also, as some commenters noticed, McDonald's Photoshopped out the American flag from the original photo.)
Here's the actual caption of the photo used in the ad, written by the person who took it:
This GOD PROTECT THE USA sign at the local McDonalds reminds us of the risk Americans take every time they down a Big Mac. I think it's a nice touch though. More greasy spoons and habitually unhealthy eating establishments ought to warn their patrons (if not the entire country) accordingly, "Only God can save you from the culinary horrors that await within."
We're assuming McDonald's compensated Ken Gage to use his photo, which makes him a sellout, too. But there is hope. We made a more honest version of the "Carry On" spot that more accurately reflects the viewpoints of the McDonald's corporation, and/or the viewpoints of anyone still susceptible to being emotionally affected by a McDonald's ad. We hope you enjoy it.