AdSnacking: Pardon Me, But Where Is The Closest McDonald's (Bathroom)?

We recently debuted a new column by Eli Sussman, former ad-man and current cookbook author and cook at Mile End in Brooklyn.

In this week's edish of AdSnacking I'm taking on the biggest kahuna of food advertising: McDonald's. Its 2011 ad spend was $963 million dollars in the U.S. alone, meaning that McDonald's accounts for $1 out of every $6 spent on advertising by all the restaurants in the US. Since you are reading this on the Internet I know you aren't living off the grid in South Dakota, so there is a solid chance that already today you've seen or heard at least one McDonalds ad.

Here's this week's commercial:

A NOTE TO ALL YOU HIGH HORSE LIBERALS (don't be embarrassed I'm one too):

I could spend all day talking about the moral implications of eating McDonald's due to its impact on the earth, or the health implications of consuming its product or the socio-economic ramifications of its locations and pricing structure. But this isn't The New Yorker so let's all just put our "I'm liberal and I'm better than you" T-shirts back in the drawer.


No company does a better job of imprinting themself onto your memory cortex. When you say McDonald's everyone instantly knows what you're talking about. It's like saying Jesus. Immediately a clear image of a long haired beared guy with sandals pops into your head. And I bet when you read "Jesus devouring a McDonald's hamburger" you can visualize that too.


Messaging: A

This ad is proof that whether you're stumbling around an outdoor market somewhere in Asia (let's buy pirated DVD's as gifts!) or taking a romantic stroll in Paris (let's buy berets as gifts!) or in Russia (let's by vodka as gifts!) every person in every single country on earth regardless of language barriers can direct you to the closet McDonald's.

Ad Creativity: B

You may not have noticed, but there wasn't a single shot of food or of a McDonald's in the entire commercial. But were you visualizing a burger and fries and the golden arches the entire time? Yes, when you go to France you can order a Royale with cheese.

Product: A+

I suppose that this commercial was pitched on the surface as a way to show McDonald's ubiquitous appeal and that across all divides: geographical, economical, racial, lingual; one thing pervades: that everyone knows McDonald's. But you know what this commercial is really selling on the sly tip? Finding a place to go to the bathroom.

When you're lost on vacation you know that McD's is clean, they won't judge you for beelining it to the bathroom, and you can even get a McFlurry on the way out. So while you're in the McDonald's bathroom in Mongolia relieved you found a place to relieve yourself, don't be shocked that you're humming "Ba Da Ba Ba Ba" and thinking "wow, a burger and fries sound really good right now." That's just advertising getting the job done.