McDonald’s Catches Heat for ‘Unapproved’ Ad

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It looks like Ford isn’t the only company that employs rogue advertising agencies. McDonald’s U.S. is the latest to be hit by “unauthorized” ads, and in this case, the ad actually made it out into public. 

The ad in question appeared on Boston’s mass transit system and was first passed around the web by intrigued commuters before McDonald’s corporate got wind of it. The poster features a distressed woman holding her head in her hands, accompanied by the words, “You’re Not Alone. Millions of people love the Big Mac.” The ad also included an 800 number at the bottom, which reportedly connected to McDonald’s corporate.

An obvious riff of a mental health PSA, the ad upset many, particularly blogger David Yamada, who snapped a photo of the ad for his blog, Minding The Workplace. “We’re living in difficult times. There are a lot of people who are struggling with their mental and emotional health. They may be highly stressed out, depressed, or even suicidal,” Yamada wrote. “I’m sorry, but the ad is just too close to the real thing to be funny.”[more]

McDonald’s eventually caught on and issued a statement to several news sources: 

“A local print ad displayed on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) was recently brought to our attention. We can confirm this ad was not approved by McDonald’s. And, as soon as we learned about it, we asked that it be taken down immediately. We have an approval process in place, with our marketing and advertising agencies, to ensure that all advertising content is consistent with our brand values. Regrettably, in this incident, that process was not followed. We sincerely apologize for this error.”

The Huffington Post reported that Pam Hamlin, president of Arnold, the ad agency responsible for the gaffe, confirmed that McDonald’s had not approved the ad and that it was an “unintended error.”

The whole thing sounds awfully familiar after Ford suffered a similar occurence last month. An agency in India reportedly fashioned some interesting advertisements that featured Ford’s Figo model and a handful of celebrities engaging in questionable acts. The ads popped up on industry website Ads of the World and subsequently went viral. Ford issued an apology, with CMO Jim Farley promising that “swift action” was taken to fix the holes in the review process… and the employees responsible for the renderings. 

Both McDonald’s and Ford have faced social backlash from the untimely incidents. Ford’s ads featured what appeared to be prostitutes tied up in the hatchback of a Figo at a time when women’s rights and safety awareness is at a high in India, where horrific attacks on women have been reported. McDonald’s U.S., meanwhile faces the growing number of mental health advocates in the wake of instances such as the Sandy Hook Elementary school and Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting incidents.

[Image via David Yamada]

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