A brief history of creepy McDonald's commercials

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On Sunday night, beleaguered fast food behemoth McDonald’s debuted an unusual ad. Using signs from various franchise locations, the spot alludes to things like 9/11 and the Boston Marathon in apparent effort to make the chain look compassionate and caring.


The commercial appears to be part of a larger effort by McDonald’s to seem generally nicer: it has also swapped out its self-centered “I’m Lovin’ It” tagline for the more magnanimous “Lovin’ Is Greater Than Hating." According to the Associated Press, McDonald's chief marketing officer said that the ad was designed to show the company's involvement in local communities during joyful and tragic occasions.

Despite those good intentions, the new campaign turned off a number of viewers who found the friendly message at odds with McDonald's labor practices, among other things.

and so on.

Indeed, McDonald's marketing officer said the outsized response was surprising: "Did we expect all this? No."


But this isn’t the first time that McDonald’s has tried to win our hearts and our wallets with emotional ads. Here are some of Mickey D’s other manipulative attempts to get us to buy some burgers and fries:

“Do The Arches,” 1988

Hey kids, what’s cooler than a secret symbol that represents a multi-billion dollar corporation that wants to clog your young arteries with sugar and fat?


“Hardnose Mrs. Hatcher,” 1988

This ad shows a bunch of kids giving their initially hated, then beloved “hardnose” teacher a McDonald’s meal to thank them for learning how to read or something. Because a happy meal is as good for you as homework?


“County Champ,” 1988

Tagline: “This Olympic year, McDonald’s pays tribute to a human trait more powerful than the will to win. The courage to dream.”


“Nostalgia,” 1992

A family tradition of patronizing one fast food brand. How wholesome, how quaint.


“Smiling baby,” 1994

Even innocent babies crave fries.

“Oh Snap,” 2008

Care to try our new offensive stereotype sandwich?

Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.