While I was browsing the ICanHasCheezburger property (for work), I came across two psychedelic ads for McDonald's, listed under "sponsored posts." Fondly remembering their failed Twitter ad efforts, I primed my critique receptors and watched all two minutes and 29 seconds of McDonald’s "Think with your mouth" ad campaign. I was hoping to come away with scathing review, but it never materialized: most of the ad spots were retro as bloody hell, nostalgic and futuristic at the same time, and some were ready to blow my mind.
I was actually startled at how well Translation–the New York City-based advertising agency in charge of the “Think With Your Mouth” campaign–understood Internet culture, and–dare I say it–some of the spots they created were nearly works of art.
Let me show you what I mean, beginning with the first one I saw:
A burger banjoist takes you through various art forms popular on the Internet, including Claymation and Tron-y retro futurism, under the guise of an old-fashioned channel surf. The burger is the centerpiece, a theme in all these ad spots.
The below spot slides toward blantant tripping, featuring a roller-coaster ride through Rolling Stones-ish imagery accompanied by a vaguely video-gamey soundtrack.
More subtle of a drug trip, and appealing to those in the Zardoz or Flash Gordon crowd, you have “Dream” which takes you over mountains and through space and time only to end hovering over Earth alongside optimistic bearded space wizards chanting some sort of Toto-esque tribal funk:
McDonald's even made one of these commercials for the dancing and partying crowd, with La Roux or Daft Punk undertones in aesthetic, title and soundtrack, in “Mouth Soiree.”
“Mouth Soiree” caters to a younger, not necessarily Internet demographic, as does “Sexy Time” which has a smooth R&B, Barry White vibe. The title of the spot is possibly a reference to Borat, though the content couldn’t possibly be, as the floor shows signs of a classy party.
“Mouthopia” above is the most popular ad on McDonald's YouTube channel. A 20-second pan-in on (of course) a burger and fanciful dinosaurs with long necks, which pop up to greet the viewer. The musical accompaniment sounds like flute, and the whole thing reads perfectly for reddit, or popping up on Adult Swim.
McDonald’s even copied the popular-enough-to-take-their-show-on-the-road Everything is Terrible’s schtick here:
This is their take on the YouTube instructional video, a staple–if not the first major money-maker for most top YouTube talent–on the video-sharing platform.
McDonald's has been marketing to these Millenials since they were gumming Happy Meal fries, so how surprising can it be that they'd figure out--and co-opt--web culture, just like they did with everything else?
I did find one marketing mistake, however: most of these ad spots originally aired on television. I’ve never seen one on a digital-content platform like Hulu or Yahoo either, and I am an avid watcher of Internet TV. Some food for thought...
McDonald's was unavailable for comment at press time.