Saturday, February 4, 2012

McDonald's Crosses a Line

So, yesterday, through other online doggie channels, a new McDonald's ad came to my attention.

The pictures I've seen (and as far as I know, the ad is an audio one, so I"m not sure of the origin of the picture, for those copyright hounds) are of a 6 piece chicken nuggets, and a down the nose shot of a bandanna wearing pit bull, with the headline "Which is safer? Eating this/petting this?" And excuse me, as I've been rather family friendly until now, but my thought was, "Oh hell no".

McDonald's, whose chicken nuggets are made from a meat-cartilage-fat-skin-bone slurry, then breaded and deep fried. McDonald's, at which those 6 chicken nuggets are 280 calories, 160 of which are fat (which is 27% of your daily value, for those keeping score at home, per the McDonald's site). McDonald's, who is repeatedly sued by people who ate their food every day for years and years, and then surprise got obese and sued the restaurant (side note: I do feel it's one's own personal responsibility to educate oneself about the food one eats, but one is kidding oneself if McDonald's every day might be considered normal, acceptable, or healthy). 

Pit Bulls? Well, yes, they are dogs and they bite. So do Golden Retrievers and Labs and Dachschunds ad Chihuahuas and yes, even my beloved Doberman. They're also therapy dogs and service dogs and Search and Rescue does. Owning a dog lowers one's blood pressure (while eating McDonald's, or perhaps viewing their ads, raises it). Owning a dog might add years to one's life (while type 2 Diabetes brought on by obesity shortens it).

If I was listening to the radio, and heard an ad like this about Dobermans, I would breathe fire. If I opened a magazine and saw an ad like this, with my Elka's face looking at me, I'd be getting a lawyer. When people are libeled like this, and subjected to this kind of prejudice, there are civil rights laws that protect them and might be called in. Dogs are not people, I get that. Some dogs are, to me, more pleasant to be around than people. 

How would this kind of ad be received if it was a picture of a McDonald's, and then a picture of African Americans in front of a house, with "Which is more dangerous? Living next to this? Or this?" Jesse Jackson, and others, would take down the establishment. Or a picture of a McDonald's milk shake, and a Koran, with "Which is more dangerous? This? Or this?"  Religious rights groups, same thing. Pit bulls? Well, they bite people, right? They're baby killers, right? You never know what a dog is going to do. 

You never know what people are going to do.

My understanding is that the phone number in the photograph I posted above is a real one 1-800-244-6227. To quote my buddy Z on Livejournal:"If you call, you will get a robot reply about how McDonald's is tremendously sorry for offending in 'how we communicate." 

Well, McDonald's, I truly hope you are sorry. I hope you stop running those ads. I hope you enjoy kissing the revenue of the dog community goodbye.

We're breaking up. It's not me. It's very certainly you.

Addendum: Here is the ad to listen to for yourself. In the interest of accuracy and fairness, the radio ad (not television or magazine) is talking about the new chicken bites (or McBites or whatever), and the statement is "You know what's risky? Petting a stray pit bull."

Petting any stray dog is risky. Again, breed did not need to be mentioned, singled out, further trampled. And could have just as easily been Doberman.

Also, McDonald's has tweeted an apology. Tweeted. (read it here) They thought "crap, we made the crazy dog people angry...pull the ad, and apology. 140 characters or less: go!"

We apologize for running a local ad insensitive in its mention of pit bulls. We didn't mean to offend anyone and the ad is being pulled.
Well, that's all right, McDonald's. I was trying to be safer and healthier anyway. Now, a good ad direction? "What's risky is petting a burning dog". But I guess there's copyright infringement down that road.


  1. Rant away! I am with you on this one. To be honest, I saw the ad on FB and didn't react because I wanted to check first. By the time I was going to check, Dr. V over at Pawcurious had announced that they had already pulled the ad. I'm glad they did. I'm so with you - petting ANY stray dog is a risk. Let's not single out pitbulls.

    I will say this though. Even though McDonalds didn't recognize their ad would raise the hackles of so many of us dog lovers before putting it out there, they were quick enough to recognize the furor that was developing and reacted immediately. I can't say the same for Susan G Kommen. I think they may have harmed their brand for good.

    Companies and organizations need to recognize the power of social media and realize that waiting can be a virtual death for their brand. (Sorry for my rant!)
    Great post.

    1. I admit, most of the time I do check snopes first for stuff like this, and this time I didn't. I leapt before I looked (partially, I think, because aforementioned livejournal friend had in fact called the Mickey-d's number listed and it did in fact reference the issue).

      the Susan G. Kommen brand was harmed for me long ago, I think, when I discovered that breast cancer was getting research to the exception of other cancers, because it really seems like no actual headway has been made, nor have any articles been published to make me think that there has.

      Good rant! The burgeoning power of the Internet is one that is apparently slow to be understood in a lot of board rooms.

  2. Eating anything at McDonald's is always a risk.

    1. True story. The only times I've ever really had what I knew for sure to be food poisoning was from.....McDonald's chicken nuggets. Garden State Parkway rest stop, December 2005.

  3. I read he McDonalds apology and I'm no impressed. he wording (to me a leas) sounds hey they are sorry about the backlash, but don't really understand WHY people were outraged. They say it was "insensitive"? No McDonalds, it was inaccurate, inappropriate and libelous. Insensitive doesn't even begin to cover it. At least they pulled it.

    1. I'm not all that impressed either. I agree, it really sounds like a corporate "oh, we didn't want you to be upset and take your money elsewhere" without any level of understanding.

  4. Replies
    1. Yes, it was. I really think that they didn't think this through. I can see how they meant it to be funny, and not offend people. But it was a bit much.

  5. Kyuss has a gut of iron, so my husband once gave Kyuss a cheesburger from McDonalds he didn't want. Kyuss vomited it up moments later.

    Eating McDonalds is always a risk in my book.

    1. Now that I think about it, the last time Elka puked was after eating some McDonald's fries. She doesn't throw up very often. We actually haven't had McDonald's since then, now that I think about it. We've been making effort to eat better, and so I've been trying to shop better and cook better.

  6. Thanks for a great post! I had not seen the ad in question before, and I find it totally offensive.

    Now, here's my question to McDonald's. Since when do pit bulls cause heart disease???

  7. So many big companies with so many big marketing blunders. Who in the world are they paying to create such garbage?

    Critter Alley