Is that a Na’vi in your Happy Meal?

A few days ago I saw “Avatar”, which is the best argument in recent years for the continued existence of movie theaters. The visual experience is overwhelming, and the old-fashioned good-triumphs-over-evil storyline prompts communal feelings of joy and triumph.

The very next day I saw a McDonalds promotional spot that, in the way these spots do, mashed together bite-and-smile shots with clips from “Avatar”. I don’t blame McDonalds for jumping on the “Avatar” bus, and I certainly don’t fault James Cameron and his bankers for laying off a chunk of their $350 million bet. The co-promotion itself is pretty ambitious, with scannable code on McDonalds packaging that you show to your computer’s webcam to unlock proprietary “Avatar” content online.

But the :30 spot is a horror. I’ve worked on fast food, so I know the promo spots go to the B-team. It just kills me to see images from this beautiful movie flattened, shrunk and dunked in ketchup. How much better it would have been to have 2 dudes shoving fries in their face talking about the movie:

“Didja see Avatar yet?”
“No–how was it?”
“Awesome.”
“Really? Like…how?”
“Can’t really describe it, man. You gotta see it. Don’t eat that last fry.”
“Just tell me about that blue chick.”
“You gotta see it. Talking about it just ruins it.”

etc etc

Sampling laundry detergent or cookies works. Sampling art: not so much. Here it would have been better to suggest, conceal and tease.

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