Iowa Writer’s Workshop Grad Deconstructs McDonald’s TV

It’s been a long while since I clicked by Cup of Chicha, a site I used to frequent. I certainly did not expect to find advertising criticism. But I did.
Here it is:

With “The Pinky,” my name for McDonalds’ latest TV ad campaign, advertising’s fascination with the hipster lifestyle comes to its final vulgar climax. Co-opting youth culture’s propensity for sign language (e.g., the finger-figurations for signing peace, west-side, hang-ten, etc.), the campaign introduces viewers to a world where pretty twenty-somethings sashay down streets wagging pinkies at each other, inviting fellow in-the-know model-types to join them at McDonalds.
The campaign, one presumes, is aiming to depict McDonalds’ newest offerings as simultaneously up-market (hence, the effete pinky) and affordable (hence, the street-credified — albeit imaginarily so — hand gesture). In that sense, the pinky functions like marketing’s beloved hipster: well-educated and artistically-inclined but also shaggy and of-the-people. Fortunately, the diminutive pinky can’t bear so much symbolic weight, and McDonalds’ idea of a slogan-ified finger only comes across as laughably — and proportionately— short-sighted.

I love it when intellectuals tackle ad problems. Seriously.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.