You’ve probably heard by now that McDonald’s have withdrawn an advertisement having previously apologised for the “upset” it has caused.
I first saw the advert on Sunday at home sat in my living room. Halfway through the advert it became quite clear that the boy featured was questioning his Mum in order to find something he has in common with his deceased father.
The advert first appears quite touching and the it was only in the final quarter of the advert that I realised it must be a McDonald’s advert as the pair sit at a table in a very recognisable restaurant layout.
At this point I wasn’t sure how I felt. The advert had clearly been touching and sensitive up to this point without expressly stating that the boys father had passed. Perhaps he had moved away? Perhaps he didn’t contact his son? However, it did dawn on me that young people suffering with grief or detachment from a parent could take a very different view.
I raised the topic of the advert in the office on Monday and it received mixed opinions. Most people felt the advert treaded quite carefully but perhaps was utilising a subject that nobody should gain benefit from. Some people were in favour of the ad, the harshest critique said it “was using death to sell burgers”.
I must stress I don’t really have a fixed opinion on this, I am firmly on the fence. What I have seen though is it becoming increasingly fashionable to bash big brands and social media is giving those voices a platform. Is this advert any more/less cynical than offering a free toy with every meal or in fact does it represent a very real and sadly common interaction for many children?
I know for a fact that the most complained about advert in 2016 was the Money Supermarket featuring twerking men. Certainly a silly advert, but was it offensive?
I know for sure there are far more controversial things screened in soaps and dramas everyday on TV screens across the world. At the core, these storylines are in place to sell episodes / increase viewership. Is there any difference?
One thing I am happy to state, as a marketing company ourselves there are certain subjects we will avoid. Whether you create something with the right intentions, sometimes you know that the topic you’re approaching is controversial and if your client could do without controversy then it is probably best avoided.
On the flip side of this, we’ve had clients that actively court controversy and use it as their strategy. Their argument that being that if you’re not offending someone, you’re not shouting loud enough.
If you want to talk about your next marketing idea, get in touch.