Last month, Ford made headlines for an allegedly unapproved ad featuring Silvio Berlusconi with a trunk full of gagged, hog tied, and crying women. And now McDonald’s is fielding a PR failure for an unapproved ad that went public.
The ad, found as a poster on the Boston metro, parodied mental health and depression PSAs/ “You’re not alone. Millions of people love the Big Mac,” the ad reads, next to the photo of a crying woman and an 800-number that connects to McDonald’s corporate office.
McDonald’s was not happy and released this statement to Time:
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.
Arnold Boston made the ad and told Adweek:
Arnold apologizes for its mistake to McDonald’s and to anyone who was offended by the ad. McDonald’s did not approve the ad, and its release was our unintended error. We’ve addressed the issue and have improved our approval process to ensure this does not happen in the future.
This is a particularly tasteless ad considering that Hill Holiday launched a massive “Happier Boston” campaign for Samaritan this winter, aimed at lowering suicide rates in the city. While Massachusetts’ suicide rate went down, the city-wide rate has gone up in the last decade.
The McDonald’s advertisement in question is part of a larger, unapproved, campaign that pokes fun at stereotypical subway ads. The personal injuries lawyer ad promises to “get you the sausage you deserve”; the continuing education spoof reads, “It’s never too late for an Angus Bacon Cheese.”
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