• McDonalds Learns Foul Programming = Less $$$

    by  • July 25, 2013 • Advertiser Accountability • 3 Comments

    As America’s leading fast-food chain, McDonalds is accustomed to handsome profits; but the restaurant’s sales and share price on Wall Street are both slumping — and McD’s sponsorship of anti-family programming may be part of the reason.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, McDonald’s share price dropped almost 3% last week after the fast-food chain delivered a disappointing earnings report. Sales were also down. While the company blamed the economy, events in Asia, and even the weather (last year was unseasonably hot, thus increasing sales and inflating expectations, the company says), one other factor may have contributed: the TV programming McDonalds sponsors.

    According to marketing research by Walmart (a company that knows a thing or two about sales), more people buy from companies that sponsor entertainment they feel is safe for their kids. Walmart’s Chief Marketing Officer, Stephen Quinn, told the PTC in a letter that their research shows an 18% higher return from advertising when advertising dollars are spent on family friendly entertainment.

    And the converse is also true: companies that sponsor or advertise in shows featuring extreme, graphic content do poorly. Studies at both University of Michigan and Ohio State University have shown that people watching advertising on shows full of violence or sex are 30% less likely to remember the name of the sponsor than people watching lighter fare.

    Given these facts, it is no wonder McDonalds is doing poorly. PTC analysis shows that since January of 2013 alone, the chain has advertised on nearly every episode of Fox’s disgusting cartoon series Family Guy and American Dad, as well as 13 out of 17 episodes of The Cleveland Show. McDonalds also sponsored last Sunday’s “sneak peek” of Fox’s new ADHD programming block.

    McDonalds hypocrisy is breathtaking. With one hand, the chain claims to be a “family-friendly” company, one which sells children “Happy Meals,” complete with toys. With the other, the company happily makes possible programs which show the same children “kinky” sex orgies, strip clubs, people’s heads being shot off, vomiting, and “jokes” about child molestation — not to mention a character eating out of a baby’s diaper, the baby throwing up, and the character eating the vomit.

    Most parents wouldn’t wouldn’t be eager to take their children to eat at a restaurant that associates its brand name with a character who eats excrement out of a diaper. But apparently, McDonalds thinks such messages are ideal for its brand image — and for attracting families.



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    3 Responses to McDonalds Learns Foul Programming = Less $$$

    1. Colleen Sehnert
      July 29, 2013 at 8:18 am

      I am absolutely disgusted by what appears on the TV screen! Why should we (parents, children and grandchildren have to watch such filth.? And also pay for it? McDonald’s will never see me again until they stop sponsoring these shows. We should have the right to protect our children. I know that we can turn off the set but we can’t always control what the children see. Are our morals deteriorating?

    2. Margie Pierson
      July 28, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      It is awful what McDonald’s is doing by advertising on such programs. They don’t deserve our business. What will it take to stop them? If customers cease going there, maybe they’ll wake up and cancel their sponsorship.

    3. Robert
      July 26, 2013 at 6:24 am

      One can tell all one needs to know about a business by what they do and McDonald’s appears to like hoodwinking people with marketing lies of family this and that with smiles around and then supports anti-family stuff. I can’t imagine eating at a McDonald’s, but definitely am not visiting one that disregards families as much as McDonald’s. Time for the arches to get buried by the backlash.

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