McDonald's Corp., Drag


In a familiar series of vignettes showing slices of life, this commercial, which is the first to run worldwide (over 100 countries, in 12 languages) for McDonald's in the "I'm Lovin' It" campaign, and shot in the Czech Republic, Brazil, South Africa and Malaysia, is intended to depict diversity and youth.

The spot includes lots of "urban" shots with skateboarders, break dancers and streetguys with a boom box, funny shots of people with ice cream, a sports painted-face guy getting on the wrong bus, and cameo appearances and vocals by Justin Timberlake and The Neptunes, as well as professional skateboarder Tony Hawk. One scene shows an older man painting his face in a mirror, then has him popping out from behind a curtain in full drag, with a platinum blonde wig, a huge necklace, evening gown and white feather boa. As he does so, the rap song sings, " I could be anybody else."

In Asia, the voiceover in Cantonese "rap" says: "I want to be myself, but when can I express this part of myself?"

This commercial is cut slightly diferently for the U.S. -- removing the drag perfomer altogether and replacing him with a punk, mohawked father picking up his baby.

Asked if it was sensitivity to homosexuality or transgender subject matter for the U.S. audience that lead to the switched scene, McDonald's spokesman Palmer Moody says, "I dont believe they felt that had anything to do with" the decision. Moody refers to the cross-dressed individual as "described to us not so much a man in drag, but a man in a 'lifestyle situation.' "

"There is freedom among countries to pick and choose various shots," Moody says. "There is a pool of other shots for countries to intersperse and work within the look and feel. As far as here in the U.S., it was an artistic decision to include the 'Punk Daddy' instead."

McDonald's has more than 13,500 local restaurants serving 26 million customers everyday. This campaign was the first shot entirely outside the U.S., and the first time the company used a non-U.S. ad agency (Heye & Partner is based in Germany) for work running here.

Timberlake is to make cameo appearances throughout the campaign. The company says he will also "work with McDonald's on developing new and innovative ways to connect with today's culture and young consumers." McDonald's plans to sponsor the Justin Timberlake 2003 European tour.

User Comments
Todd Hill
Yes, it's a terrible ad indeed, in that it is too long, too disjointed and uses some truly execrable (c)rap music. And of course McDonald's is to be deplored all-round for their largely nutrition-free menu offerings and the enormous environmental damage their beef addiction does to the planet. As for them not including the lightning-quick drag queen shots for the American market, the excluded clips in question were so short as to be almost subliminal - one would have to be actively looking FOR them to even notice them! McDonald's American agency probably went with the other segments ("punk daddy") likely because they conveyed a more obvious, less ambiguous message. Also the drag queen bit wasn't actually thematically consistent with the more youth-oriented other segments of the ad. McDonald's has too many other looming problems as a major world corporate citizen to waste time worrying about this. This is a mere bump on a mere piffle on a mere trifle.

Andrea James
McDonald’s avoids anything remotely offensive in the US, since it tries to be all things to all people. The removed scene shows how sensitive they are to presenting anything remotely controversial. Gotta keep the hordes munching contentedly and without losing their appetites!