Picture from The Palm Beach Post
It comes by no surprise that European countries like France, Norway and Austria are far more liberal when it comes to sexuality and the content they air on public television surrounding this taboo topic. For what seems like centuries, Europeans have been known to air commercials that border on “racy” and show what we in America dare not show…
Many people debate about what this does and does not do to our youth, but that is not what I am here to talk about. I will say that is interesting that these same counties that have lower censorship standards also have lower adolescent pregnancy rates, less abortions and less cases of HIV in their youth. Food for thought…
Again, I am not saying it is right or wrong to show nudity or express favor in any regard to sexual orientation, but what I am saying is, McDonalds, as an American based company has taken the freedoms of other markets and embraced them in their marketing tactics.
In France, commercials targeted at young gay men and women are abundant, so it makes sense that world renowned burger and fries joint would partake in this trend and air a commercial targeted at gay youth. Their pitch for the commercial is, “Come as you are.”
In the plot of this commercial, the young boy is at a McDonalds with his father who has absolutely no idea that he is gay. As the father tries bonding over french fries and “guy talk,” reminiscing about his player days, the message is clear; either the father is in complete denial or is just absolutely oblivious and doesn’t even know his son… And even though his father doesn’t accept him as he is, McDonalds will… just the way he is.
Does this make gay men in France hungry for a shake and fries? Does this make them want to run out to McDonalds and get a burger? Not likely. The commercial never even shows food besides in the background as a blur. If their goal was to make customers hungry, they failed. If they hoped to create a warm and fuzzy vibe, mission accomplished.
In looking at another McDonalds commercial from an entirely different part of the world, you still get the warm vibe, but in an entirely different light. In this Indian commercial, father and son bond after a failed attempt at a school play, over a case of stage fright. To help his son feel better and help him become less shy he treats him to a Happy Meal. Everyone feels better after a Happy Meal… at least I do!
In a country that is heavily focused on family and values, you get marketing targeted at a secular family with a traditional father son relationship, that brings a tear to the eye. However, unlike in the French scenario, in this commercial you get a close up of the food, the Happy Meal toy and what appears to be a vegetarian sandwich. This marketing in my opinion achieved its purpose by having a plot, but also by showcasing what they are selling throughout the commercial.