Definitely Not Lovin’ It

I believe ads can sometimes go beyond the role of simply selling stuff and delivering brand messages. Which is not to say I don’t think they should sell or that we should be ashamed of selling: I’m not, at all. But sometimes I think there’s an opportunity to do a bit more, whether that’s helping to boost female empowerment, demonstrating how a product can make the world a better place, putting the product in a context that inspires education and positive debate or creating work that genuinely saves. Sadly, while much good has come out of campaigns based in altruistic and social change ideas, it feels to me as though the whole territory has become trite and cynical. The heartstring-tugging is just too obvious and the corporate motives too transparent.

For example, when I watch the Always thing I picture a load of marketing guys in a boardroom getting excited about how it’ll ‘leverage the feminist zeitgeist’ or ‘hit the female teenage demographic bullseye’ or something. The balance of genuinely doing some good vs boosting the brand’s bottom line is starting to feel out of whack. After all, let’s not forget, these campaigns are often put out there by corporations that are screwing the planet with production processes that are fucking up the environment, labour practices that ‘unethical’ doesn’t begin to cover and abhorrent treatment of animals.

This whole type of campaign purports to be philanthropic but is starting to remind me of the classic Bill Hicks bit about marketing people putting a dollar value on everything. And, as more and more brands try to play in this space and blur the lines between commercialism and philanthropy, CSR has become just enough potential cash-cow. It feels like we’re in a race to the bottom, at break-neck speed. And the current race leader is the heinous McDonalds piece above. Interest declared: As a passionate vegetarian, McDonalds are my most hated brand. But putting aside the fact that the millions of animals that are imprisoned in torturous conditions each year before being murdered and turned into Big Macs aren’t Lovin’ It, this is still a repugnant piece of faux feel-good bollocks. The oh-so-smiley actors playing McDonalds staff; the nauseatingly emotive music, the idea that junk food brings families together and, most of all, the hi-jacking of real emotions to flog crappy burgers all make me want to puke. And if that seems a bit harsh, just ask yourself – how would your mum feel if she knew that you’d phoned to say you love her just so you could get a free burger?

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About antmelder
Creative Partner at DDB Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

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