McDonald’s Apologizes for Controversial Advertisement

May 23, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. despondent [dih-SPON-duh nt] (adj.) – very sad and hopeless
Example: Many people became despondent after losing their jobs due to the economic crisis.

2. viral [VAHY-ruh l] (adj.) – popular or well-known, especially on the Internet
Example: The pop star’s viral video has more than a million views on YouTube.

3. miss the boat [mis th uh boht] (idiom) – to misunderstand the importance or to be ignorant of something
Example: The businessman missed the boat when he said poverty can be easily solved.

4. consistent [kuh n-SIS-tuh nt] (adj.) – in agreement or  in harmony with something
Example:  People respect Mike because his words are always consistent with his actions.

5. step forward [step FAWR-werd] (phrasal v.) – to take an action or to offer help
Example:  The former employee stepped forward to reveal the company’s dishonest practices.


Read the text below.
Fast food giant McDonald's has apologized for a controversial advertisement that associates the desire for Big Mac with mental illness.

The ad, which was posted on the Boston transport system, shows a despondent woman with her head in her hand, along with the words "You're not alone. Millions of people love the Big Mac." McDonald's corporate phone number is also shown at the bottom of the poster.

Many people criticized the ad for its insensitivity after its photos went viral on Twitter and other social networking sites.

Professor David Yamada of the Suffolk [SUHF-uh k] University Law School in Boston wrote on his blog that the ad completely missed the boat. He said that a lot of people are truly depressed and even suicidal, and that the ad was not funny at all.

McDonald's said in a statement that the company had not approved the posters and insisted that the ad be removed immediately. Nicole DiNoia, the regional spokesperson for McDonald's, said that the company follows an approval process to make sure that all the released ads are consistent with the company values. However, the process was not followed in this incident.

The advertising firm Arnold MPG has stepped forward and claimed responsibility for the ads. According to Pam Hanlin, president of the firm, McDonald’s, in fact, had not approved the ads that were mistakenly released.

Arnold MPG extended its apologies to McDonald's and to anyone who had been offended by the ads.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think the McDonald’s ad is really inappropriate? Why do you say so?
·         What do you think are important factors to consider when making an advertisement? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Is depression a serious issue in your country? Please explain your answer.
·         How can society be more supportive or helpful to people with mental illnesses?


May 23, 2013