Thursday, January 11, 2007

Did Somebody Say McCreepy?

Credits: Leo Burnett, New Delhi; Copywriter: Rondeep Gogoi, Art & Illustrator: Sumonto Ghosh

Our first foray into the world of badvertisements was to have been the new McDonald’s “Dollar Menunaires” campaign, a stunningly annoying spot that has been running every 15 minutes on American television. However, while researching that particular bomb, I ran across this little gem from the print world and simply couldn’t help myself.

Spawned from the offices of Leo Burnett Worldwide, (creators of such beloved hucksters as Tony the Tiger, Poppin’ Fresh, the Keebler Elves, and the Marlboro Man,) this Spock-eared little cherub heralds the birth of a new McDonald’s franchise in Kimaya Kothrud, India. Yes, India, where there are over 50 franchises.

Perhaps it’s my Ameri-centric nature, but I fail to see how this Kabuki-esque critter can make anyone crave a tasty McAloo Tikki. One blogger, on seeing the ad, wondered if there was a clown-painted fetus campaign while the restaurant was under construction. Let’s face it, there’s a time and a place for children. Some other time and some other place.

Now I haven’t been able to eat McDonald’s food since the mid 90’s when they allegedly began tinkering with the cooking process. There’s no telling how many millions they spent on improving the taste of their food, but all it did for me was cause an instant case of McBowelmovements. Trust me, I tried them out a few more times at different locations and in different cities, but the results were always the same. Halfway through the meal I’d be halfway to the McMensroom. Even on the occasion when I only ordered a box of fries.

What I did find interesting when researching this ad, is the fact that almost all Indian franchises offer a vegetarian menu prepared by specific employees in a section separate from the non-veg area. This may be a side effect of a 2002 lawsuit by vegetarians, (many Hindu,) in which McD’s was found to have been adding beef extract and animal flavorings to their fries and biscuits. For U.S. consumers, this practice is still continued according to WikiPedia.

But I digress. Where were we? Oh yes, the McInfant.

I get the comparison. New baby, new franchise. It’s cute and at first glance, effective. It catches the eye and with the help of decades of relentless McBranding is instantly recognizable as a McAdvert. Look at it quickly. Not bad. But now take some time to view it. Click on it and view the large version. Now think of Quint in Jaws as he recounts the tale of the USS Indianapolis. Replace the word shark with McInfant. Here, let me help you.

“...sometimes a McInfant, he looks right into you... right into your eyes. You know a thing about a McInfant, he’s got... lifeless eyes, black eyes like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at you he doesn’t seem to be livin’, until he bites you and those black eyes roll over white and then... oh, then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'...”

Interesting, no?

And the less said about the love doll mouth the better. I’m all for sex in advertising, but this is a child for crying out loud. Add in the ear and you have the bastard love-child of Barney Fife and Pennywise. The clown, not the band. I don’t have a particular aversion to clowns, but I’m certainly going to have nightmares over this one. I am decidedly not lovin’ it.

Although the make-up, photography and Photoshop work is very good, I would have replaced the light reflections in the eyes with Golden Arches. Just a thought. The copy on the other hand just doesn’t work. “Just opened, near Kimaya Kothrud.” Wow. I hope Rondeep isn’t getting paid by the word. I would have tried something like, “The newest addition to our family.” It seems to me that this child is somewhat older than ‘just opened’ but I guess it would be in poor taste to have a McNewborn in the O.R. with the cord still attached.

Speaking of segues, it’s time to cut the umbilical on the firstborn of this series. I hope you enjoy it, and if there’s an ad out there that needs my attention, please let me know.

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