McDonald’s Also Didn’t Like Their Controversial MBTA Ads

The company says it didn't approve the ad campaign.



We noted this week that some people weren’t amused by a tricky McDonald’s campaign on the MBTA that parodied ads for depression services. McDonald’s, as it turns out, was also not amused. The company says the ads were purchased by an outside agency on the company’s behalf without prior approval. McDonald’s regional spokesperson Nicole DiNoia wrote in a statement:

A local print ad displayed on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) was recently brought to our attention. We can confirm this ad was not approved by McDonald’s. And, as soon as we learned about it, we asked that it be taken down immediately.

We have an approval process in place, with our marketing and advertising agencies, to ensure that all advertising content is consistent with our brand values. Regrettably, in this incident, that process was not followed. We sincerely apologize for this error.”

The offending ad itself (above) showed a woman with her face in her hands alongside the words: “You’re Not Alone: Millions of people love the Big Mac.” This struck a little too close to a serious issue for some, though it made a bit more sense in the context of the entire train car, which was filled with spoofs of other common subway ad genres. Jed Hresko posted many of the images to Facebook. The controversial ad aside, the campaign as a whole is actually kind of amusing, if somewhat out of line with the general aesthetic of the McDonald’s brand.


Jed Hresko via Facebook.

There’s one for personal injury lawyers  sausage, egg, and cheese:  

There’s one for job recruiters a quarter pounder with cheese:


Jed Hresko via Facebook.

And there’s one for adult education the angus bacon and cheese:


Jed Hresko via Facebook.

The ad agency, Arnold MPG, isn’t disputing McDonalds’s claim that the ads didn’t get approved before going up. In a statement Arnold President Pam Hamlin writes:

Arnold apologizes for its mistake to McDonald’s and to anyone who was offended by the ad. McDonald’s did not approve the ad, and it’s release was our unintended error. We’ve addressed the issue and have improved our approval process to ensure this does not happen in the future.

Who knows what wires got crossed between McDonald’s and Arnold, but at any rate, there’s your answer to who’s behind the ads that lived a brief but notable life on the Orange Line in Boston.