McDonald's is fielding a PR disaster for an unapproved ad that went public in Boston subway stations and parodies real depression / mental health PSAs.
"You're not alone. Million of people love the Big Mac," the ad reads, next to a crying woman and an 800-number that connects to McDonald's corporate office.
Some people were not happy. Neither was McDonald's.
The fast food chain said in a statement this week:
"We can confirm that 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 company said, and the ad's creator followed suit.
Arnold Boston, who made the ad, told Adweek:
"Arnold apologizes for its mistake and to anyone who was offended by the ad. McDonald's did not approve the ad, and its release was our unintended error."
As for how someone thought this was funny, the ad in question is part of a larger, unapproved, campaign that pokes fun at stereotypical subway ads.
For instance, a personal injury lawyer ad promises to "get you the sausage you deserve" and an adult education spoof reads, "It's never too late for an Angus Bacon Cheese."
Still, the mental health parody didn't sit well in light of recent events, and flies in the face of a massive "Happier Boston" campaign launched this winter.
Massachusetts' suicide rate is down, but the city of Boston rate has gone up in the last decade, and depression has become a major focal point.
So while the intent was harmless ... the results were clearly not to public health officials and subway riders alike, making for a McD's PR debacle.