Category Archives: McDonalds

Stop trying to make “Egg McMuffin” happen.


Like the hapless Gretchen in Mean Girls who wanted nothing more in life than to create a word meme that would take hold with her cohort, McDonalds has run into the ruthless buzzsaw of reality with its widely ridiculed spot:

Making your brand name (or variant thereof) part of everyday language is a quest with a long history, a few successes  (“Fedex it”) and some spectacular failures, like this epic Florence Henderson spot from the 70s:

This approach reached its nadir in the 80s with Jordan Case McGrath, whose Jim Jordan was a proponent of “nameonics” (which is not only idiotic sounding but also a play on the word “mnemonics”–a reference that nobody but a dork like me would know, or should). During nameonics’ brief, disgraceful reign, we got classics like “Deer Park, that’s good water!” and “Renuzit Doozit.”

The rise of social media seems to be prompting a nameonics resurrection, as advertisers try to “go viral.” But it’s not a good idea, as it was not a good idea 30 years ago, and for the same reason: an advertiser may own his brand, but the people own the language. Come up with a branded product or service that’s so unique and indispensable that there is no synonym for it, and the people will add it to the vocabulary with no prompting necessary.

Don’t believe me? Google it for yourself.


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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?”
“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.