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Media Analysis of McDonald's Failed Advertisement

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In 12 May 2017, McDonald’s posted an advertisement to their social media and UK TV, but this video advertisement did not get good feedback. And it caused a lot of discussions and arguments about McDonald’s.

In this video, a boy was talking with his mother about his dead father and imagining what they had in common with the boy’s dead father. Then, they walked into a fast-food restaurant which looks like it is McDonald’s, and they ordered some food which includes a fish filet burger to share with each other. When the boy began to eat the burger, the mother said this kind of burger is also the favorite food in the dead father’s choice list.

In this video, McDonald’s tried to use a touching story to cause another people's sympathy, and then they hope this could enhance customer satisfaction with them. Because you can see that this is a single mother who has lost her husband, and her son, the boy in this video, also loves and misses his father. They talked to each other and try to think all things which is related to the dead father. When they walked into McDonald’s and ordered the food, now the main part of this ad appears, although it was built on a sad story. McDonald’s tried to use that the dead father loves their food to make other people to accept that their food is valued and delicious. Because the mother and son try to use this to memorize the dead father, this idea would be put into everyone’s mind, and then everyone might could use the similar ways to do the same thing for their relations. But this is just what McDonald’s think, and the reality sometimes is not like what they hope.

In McDonald’s video, they use a story which is about a mother and a son try to memorize the dead father by talking about a lot of the dead father’s all favorites. The main view the ad maker wants to use is that we often try to memorize those relations who have died, and this is very common and formal thing in everyone’s mind. Everyone would do that, we memorize them because they are important in our life. McDonald’s was taking advantage of this very common view and put it to be the video’s main topic. But why do not they use an example of friend, colleagues or neighbors? Why do they use ‘father’ as an example but not use grandparents, aunt or uncle? Because father or mother have the closest relationship with us, except our own kids. If you use others as the protagonist, it would not have the same effect as using father, even it would reduce the effect of the topic. So ‘father’ in this case would be the best choice, which get more attentions from the reader group. So, from here, we can see that McDonald’s has designed this ad with a very deep thinking.

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As we know, social media marketing is the company use social media platform to run marketing activities. In this case, McDonald’s use a video story advertisement to strength their relationship with their customers into a positive direction, and they hope to use this video ad to continue recommending their brand more to all customers. In the case, McDonald’s post a very touching ad video to the social media, and they tried to use this as a new marketing planning for welcoming more customers. This is a good idea for posting a video ad to the social media, because every social media both have a lot of users, and the company could use this platform to develop more customers. But it should be mentioned that social media is different from the used and traditional marketing channels. In social media, there are more than millions of updates would be posted from different user in a second. So, it decides that the post you made must be attracting customers’ eyes, and it could be easier to be found in a huge number of updates. As a successful leading brand in fast-food industries, McDonald’s also need to follow the trend to use this information exchange platform to promote their brand. This is a right way, and it is also what most big and famous companies are doing. McDonald’s also did this in this case. However, they were also remembered by its readers because of its details of the video, and these effects this video ad had made was opposite to what a good social media marketing defines.

After many people have watched this video, a huge number criticizes were posted back to McDonald’s. A lot of people who have watched this video or have known the details of this video from others mentioned that this video’s story they think is a kind of invisible damage for those children who have lost their parents or just one of them. Then, after many common people have given their views, some professional people in business and sociology also joined the group who oppose this video’s ideas, and they complained that this action of McDonald’s is an irresponsible view for their customers and the common society. Even these professional people also criticized those social media and TV who have posted or planned to post this video in their platforms, and they thought these platforms also have duties to avoid this kind of controversial video would be posted by their platform. After receiving a lot of criticizing pressures from everywhere, the spokeswoman of McDonald’s said that they would be careful about all reviews and feedback, and they would go back to discuss them. After a few days, McDonald’s deleted the video and continue to remain silent for this issue.

Based on all above issues, I think this is a failed ad. It seems to me that at first they did not choose a good and right topic. I admit that a touching story could give everyone an attention. But I do not think any touching story could be made as an advertisement. Because this might arouse controversies in different people with different views. Although sometimes it might could be used in an advertisement, it might not fit in appearing in a business advertisement. If it is used in a business way, it might make your customer feel uncomfortable, because you cannot make sure this fit in their value. Secondly, I think they know social media has a huge number of audiences, and they could use this to put the advertisement to publicize themselves. But they ignore that those people have different needs, and they also have their own different views. If you put anything which is not good enough, it sometimes could not give you any benefits, even it would bring bad effects to you. Based on the bad ideas of the topic, it would be dangerous for a business to use social media. It would double the damage which caused by the bad topic, because the audience of social media is too broad, you cannot make sure your idea would be the common idea, so that ask everyone should be careful.

Based on all of the above, I can conclude that McDonald's advertising video, despite the depth of its content, failed. This case is very instructive in that, when creating a media advertisement, one must not only be careful with the feelings it can potentially evoke in the audience.

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Media Analysis of McDonald’s Failed Advertisement. (2023, September 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from
“Media Analysis of McDonald’s Failed Advertisement.” Edubirdie, 19 Sept. 2023,
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Media Analysis of McDonald’s Failed Advertisement [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 19 [cited 2023 Nov 29]. Available from:
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