McDonald’s Apologizes After Couple Says Ad Campaign Ripped Off Their Viral Engagement Photos

McDonald's appears to have imitated a viral photo series for a new Twitter campaign. The ads, which included this photo, have been taken down.

McDonald’s appears to have imitated a viral photo series for a new Twitter campaign. The ads, which included this photo, have been taken down.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But what if that flattery comes in the form of the largest fast food restaurant copying your creative take on engagement photos for a national ad campaign? That’s what two artists have accused McDonald’s of doing, and now the Golden Arches is publicly apologizing.

AdWeek reports that McDonald’s issued an apology to a freelance writer and a photographer after modeling a Twitter ad campaign based on a set of viral photos the artists released last month.

The original pictorial series included the man longingly looking at a burrito on a park bench, seductively peering at the food from behind a tree and lounging next to each other on the grass.

“I came up with the concept as a satirical take on the engagement photos that flood my everyday social media channels,” one of the creators tells AdWeek of the photos that went viral after being covered in BuzzFeed.

McDonald’s apparently saw the popularity of the series and decided to make it its own by replacing the tinfoil wrapped burrito with its double cheeseburger meal.

The resulting ads feature various people in similar poses to those of the viral photo series: a man lies back in the grass, a woman sitting on a park bench, a man peering around a tree.

The artists say they learned of the McDonald’s Twitter campaign after a friend spied one of the sponsored Tweets and pointed out the similarities.

“The photos are in fact licensed. The photos used by McDonald’s are not a spin-off or a take on it,” the writer tells AdWeek, “but an exact duplicate from the wardrobe, the positions and the concept. Neither myself, my photographer or the licensing company were approached for permission.”

Not seeing the imitation as flattery, the duo began Tweeting and calling McDonald’s. While they hadn’t heard back from the company on Thursday night, a rep for the company issued an apology statement to AdWeek.

“This shouldn’t have happened and, with our agency partner, we’re working to find out how it did. We’re reaching out to [the artists]. We apologize to them, their fans and ours,” the company said.

As of Friday morning, it appears the McDonald’s ads had been removed from their Twitter page.

While the artists appreciate the apology, they would like the ad company to acknowledge the campaign was base don their work, and, of course, if McDonald’s wants to pay them for the concept, “that’d be great,” he tells AdWeek.

McDonald’s Apologizes for Ripping Off Viral Photos of a Man Getting Engaged to a Burrito [AdWeek]

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