Avoiding McDonald's

Watching the Superbowl, and seeing the McDonald's commercial where the company announced a policy that they will ask their customers to do various kinds of performance art rather than pay, I said to my kids, "well, I guess I am avoiding McDonald's for a while."  Not only do I not want to sing a song to avoid paying my $5 bill, I probably would pay them $50 to shut up and just give me my damn food.

My kids acted like I was being a curmudgeon, but apparently I am not alone:

Early on Monday morning I paid a visit to the Golden Arches while traveling through Union Station in Washington, D.C. After a moment’s wait I placed my order with an enthusiastic cashier, and started to pay.

Suddenly the woman began clapping and cheering, and the restaurant crew quickly gathered around her and joined in. This can’t be good, I thought, half expecting someone to put a birthday sombrero on my head. The cashier announced with glee, “You get to pay with lovin ’!” Confused, I again started to try to pay. But no.

I wouldn’t need money today, she explained, as I had been randomly chosen for the store’s “Pay with Lovin’ ” campaign, the company’s latest public-relations blitz, announced Sunday with a mushy Super Bowl TV commercial featuring customers who say “I love you” to someone, or perform other feel-good stunts, and are rewarded with free food. Between Feb. 2 and Valentine’s Day, the company says, participating McDonald’s locations will give away 100 meals to unsuspecting patrons in an effort to spread “the lovin’.”

If the “Pay with Lovin’ ” scenario looks touching on television, it is less so in real life. A crew member produced a heart-shaped pencil box stuffed with slips of paper, and instructed me to pick one. My fellow customers seemed to look on with pity as I drew my fate: “Ask someone to dance.” I stood there for a mortified second or two, and then the cashier mercifully suggested that we all dance together. Not wanting to be a spoilsport, I forced a smile and “raised the roof” a couple of times, as employees tried to lure cringing customers into forming some kind of conga line, asking them when they’d last been asked to dance.

The public embarrassment ended soon enough, and I slunk away with my free breakfast, thinking: Now there’s an idea that never should have left the conference room.

It didn't look touching on TV, it looked awful.  I had already decided to avoid McDonald's for the time being based on the commercial but my thanks to the author for confirming it.


  1. Joe:

    There's always the drive thru.

  2. Mike Powers:

    The Super Bowl commercials this year were a pretty sorry lot. They were either sappy or dour--I mean, there were only two Bud commercials, one badly-edited thing about horses that come to the aid of a lost dog, and one that was nothing but hurfdurfing about microbrews (the apparent message being "drink Bud because it doesn't taste like anything!")

    Nationwide's Dead Kid Ad was definitely the worst but there were some strong contenders.

  3. BP:

    Warren, if you haven't watched "Nathan for You" on Comedy Central (and streaming free on Amazon Prime), you really need to give it a shot. I think as someone who runs a business you'd get a kick out of it. I'm still waiting to find out prankster Nathan Fielder wormed his way into the McDonald's marketing department.

  4. roxpublius:

    Not only was the Nationwide ad depressing, but I'm not certain that the message that desperately needed to be conveyed to American parents was that they are not protective enough of their children.

  5. mesaeconoguy:

    This was exactly my reaction, as I would much, much, much rather pay with commonly accepted mediums of exchange instead of playing human puppet for some (leftist) marketing exec’s foolish initiative.

    What MCD has done is to make the fatal economic mistake, not of substituting non-monetary compensation for monetary, but rather trying to override individual indifference curves, as reflected above in coyote’s statement (and shared by me) I probably would pay them $50 to shut up and just give me my damn food.

  6. J K Brown:

    Oh, look. The kid of the guy who came up with New Coke got a job at McDonalds. To bad, they seem unable to restore the family name.

  7. J K Brown:

    "Nationwide, your daughter died"

    As one comedian put it. Why to wipe out a slogan.

  8. J K Brown:

    If you are in your car, there is always another restaurant right down the street.

  9. ErikTheRed:

    I've been successfully avoiding McDonalds for about two decades now and seem to be getting on just fine.

  10. STW:

    I manage to get to McDs every 10 years or so. I think I'm due in a year or three. Maybe this campaign will end by then.

  11. Matthew Slyfield:

    No, I think it was the guy who thought up MS Bob.


  12. MNHawk:

    Kind of makes me glad of the eternal diet I've been on, since quitting smoking.

  13. MNHawk:

    I liked New Coke. Thought it tasted more like Pepsi.

    Now the designer of Windows 8, however...

  14. EconoMichael:

    Eh, I don't mind the two week "Pay with Love" campaign. The vast majority of customers are unlikely to be selected. Of those selected who don't want to participate, it seems unlikely many will be so put off as to discontinue eat McDonalds thereafter. Those who want to pay with lovin' will be happy for a "free" meal when selected while others who like the idea may marginally increase their eating at McDonalds between now and Valentine's Day. Seems overall net positive for them.

  15. marque2:

    Bob was funny. He before his time, and would be great in the world of idiot tablets and smart phones that we have today.

  16. marque2:

    Here is an image of BOB - notice how much the tiles are like phone tiles today.


  17. marque2:

    The message of the second one was more, Drink Bud because not only does it taste OK, but it is not pretentious like the peach nut squash ales, which only taste "good" because pretentious people pretend they do.

  18. marque2:

    Actually I didn't think that ad was so bad. It wasn't any worse than the PSA's we put up with.

  19. Loving Not:

    If the pull that loving stuff on me, I just turn around and walk out of the joint

  20. Daublin:

    Yeah, BOB and its underlying ideas did pretty well, despite all the abuse heaped on it by chattering hackers. BOB is dead now, but so is Desqview.

    See also: windowing user interfaces, and IDEs. For that matter, Grace Hopper got a lot of flack for her compilers, but it's unimaginable to program nowadays without one.

  21. Jim V:

    I was in a McDonald's about a month ago about 100 miles from where I live. The mental image of me having to perform in that environment is enough to keep me out of McDonald's for the foreseeable future.