While it might seem like your day is ruined if you can’t get a Big Mac, in no way is it the same as suffering from a mental illness. That’s a point McDonald’s apparently missed with a regional ad in the Boston area: It featured a familiar image of a distraught woman with her head in her hands with the copy, “You Are Not Alone.” Below it? “Millions of people love the Big Mac.”
It even includes a 1-800 number that connects to McDonald’s customer satisfaction line, where callers are invited to share an experience they had. The whole thing appears to be equating crippling depression or other mental health issues with the desire for fast food burgers.
As such, McDonald’s has been catching a whole lot of flak from consumers over the ad, and has subsequently pulled the ad from Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway trains. The damage has already been done, however, reports USA Today.
“The worst possible situation is if someone in an emotional crisis were to see that image and call that number,” says a spokesman for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “It would be a cruel mistake.”
Parody ads are one thing — it’s always open season on popular culture phenomena like viral videos or celebrity mishaps — but poking fun at serious health issues? That’s rubbing plenty of people the wrong way.
McDonald’s has issued an apology, blaming a regional ad agency.
“We can confirm this ad was not approved by McDonald’s,” it said in a statement. “As soon as we learned about it, we asked that it be taken down immediately.”
The agency also is scrambling to repent for the muck-up, saying it “apologizes for its mistake to McDonald’s and to anyone who was offended by the ad. We’ve addressed the issue and have improved our approval process.”