Spring is here and with it comes news of a potentially great publicity stunt. McDonald’s intends to embrace the Urban music scene by offering an extra royalty of “between $1 and $5” to bands getting radio airplay of songs which include a reference to the famous “Big Mac” hamburger.
Someone named Tony Rome is credited with dreaming up this idea. and since he’s described alliteratively as an “entertainment marketing man from Maryland”, I’m wondering which of the two he’s more interested in – entertainment? or marketing? Also whether people in Maryland are born totally ignorant of the concept of artistic integrity or whether they get some kind of sad-but-necessary brain washing performed on them when they get their first job in the media.
As a stunt you might expect this would stand or fall on the quality of the songs which result, with a slightly queasy feeling about such an overt attempt on the multinational’s part to connect with its clientèle and all that grimy street culture the specific musical genre suggests. But hang on. I have a feeling it’s cleverer than that. I think McDonald’s has seen a golden-arched opportunity to soften its image, warm up its buns and deliberately get a laugh or two. Consider: which topical news commentator, disc jockey, cartoonist or stand-up comedian this week is NOT going to have this story on their list of ‘possibles’? Those media professionals who haven’t seen it as a source of humour shouldn’t be working. The element of total ludicrousness, even if lost on Mr Rome, is summed up in the line in the Press Release which reads
“The burger chain would have final approval of the lyrics, he added.”
..which is just what we need: discredited fast-crap-food purveyors censoring our pop music’s lyrics, with the power of the dollar wiping all art before it as thoroughly as the Tartanned Ones learn to swab down the lino in their ‘restaurants’. I like this line too: McDonald’s, apparently, “will ultimately allow artists to decide how the sandwich is integrated into the songs.”
“Ah’m DEAD in the sack ‘coz I ate a Big Mac an’ I’d rather do smack or BREAK ma back…”
By the way, McDonald’s always refers to those things it sells as ‘sandwiches’, a minefield of confusion for the British, who expect a sandwich to look like a sandwich and not a plane crash featuring gherkins and fried udder.
So if everyone laughs at a PR stunt does that make it a success? ( Certainly not Jonathon King the sad photo opp proclaiming the joys of being banged up was another PR low this week) I think it probably does We should be glad for any free entertainment, provided it’s entertaining enough. I bet I’ll enjoy Jimmy Carr or Jonathan Ross or even Billy Connelly, dear old thing, coming up with something hilarious about introducing sandwiches into pop songs. Brand names in rock are nothing new, anyway. “Please Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?” sang Janis Joplin, oozing integrity in the ‘60s. Oh dear. “Oozing” – not really the vocabulary you want in a piece about mechanically recovered meat.