McDonald’s Dead Dad Advert / Commercial [90 seconds, unedited]
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McDonald’s Dead Dad Advert / Commercial [90 seconds, unedited]

Mum Yes love? What was dad like? He was big and cuddly, your dad. Tall as a house. And big, big, hands. C’mon little’n. He was never scruffy… always smart. And his shoes… so shiny you could
see your face in them. Dad played football, didn’t he? Yeah, he was good. Captain, I think. He liked techno? Yeah.
He was a right catch, your dad. A “wow” with all the girls. Did he have blue eyes, like me? No. Brown. Thanks Phil. That was your dad’s favourite too. Tartar sauce
​ Tartar sauce
…all down his chin.



    Here is a shot-by-shot review/analysis:

    0:00 First impressions. The kid is sort of red-of-face. One cannot help but wonder if this is perhaps indicative of high cholesterol. But a child this young would have to eat a whole lot of unhealthy food or, perhaps, have a genetic disposi- oh God.

    0:03 A watch? A bold decision to go with this heirloom considering Tarantino did it so well in Pulp Fiction. Perhaps McDonald's is not willing to spring for Christopher Walken, settling instead for an anonymous box whose performance is as wooden as its constituent parts.

    0:09 Are we to really believe that these glasses belong to the boy's father? For an adult male's frames, they fit inexplicably well on the young boy's head. Why did the father have such a small head? Perhaps it would be more pertinent to ask "why did the father have a boy's glasses and where is that boy now?".

    0:12 A little black book? Hopefully unrelated to the unknown-boy subplot.

    0:18 Kitchen appears not to have been renovated since the 70’s. The sort of neglect one might see in a family which is outsourcing the heart of its home to a fast food franchise. By my count that’s two hearts McDonald’s has claimed from this family.

    0:19 Holy hell, she got from the ironing board to the window demonically fast. Leo Burnett London would not allow a match cut this bad in a deliverable for one of their biggest clients so we can only assume the mother is a succubus.


    0:28 “Big, cuddly.” — we know why that is. “Tall as a house, big, big hands” — but with a boy-sized head, right?

    0:33 Free parenting tip for widowed mothers: leverage your son’s bereavement for his dead father to discipline him into an appearance of your preference.

    0:48 Brainstorming meeting:
    >> "we still need to build some aspiration into this sob tale”.
    << “The client is afraid that the culture of healthy lifestyle is devaluing its brand, why don’t we have the kid suck at football and say his dad was really good at football?”.
    >> "I don’t get it".
    << “Well, childhood obesity is on the rise, right? That’s our target market. The little fatties must feel inadequate at sport so if we anchor those feelings of inadequacy to the boy’s aspiration to feel loved by his parents then, emotionally, the product solves both”.
    >> "You sick genius, the client will love this".

    0:55 “He liked techno happy hardcore?”. ”Yeee, also doing Es and getting blasted on the weekend. Back then the pills were quality.”

    1:00 Turn you inadequacy dial up to ‘rejection’. Beloved dad was “a wow” with the all the girls but the smile of our unathletic reflection in the TV screen is met with a cold indifference by the approaching romantic prospect.

    1:02 Solemn faced, devoid of romantic love, devoid of athleticism, devoid of parental approval, what’s a fatherless boy to do?

    1:05 Forget that, arrival at McDonald’s has restored the bounce in his step. This could be you! Better have a couple of black guys sitting in the window… one of them rocking with laughter while the other one bites his burger. Deliciously choreographed diversity.

    1:06 “Did he have blue eyes? Like me?”. “NOO000ooo. Brown . YOU GUESSED WRONG STUPID. DUMB KID, WHAT, WERE YOU TOO YOUNG WHEN YOUR DAD DIED TO REMEMBER HIS EYE COLOUR?". I’m going to stroke your face in a comforting but simultaneously condescending way so, in addition to your other flaws, you feel infantilized and intellectually inadequate.

    1:09 Mother walks off shot for just long enough to capture the feelings of isolation and abandonment before…

    1:10 …*THE LOGO REVEAL!* Smiles, happiness, eye contact… rhomboid battered fish? Note the logo was distinctly absent from the exterior shots just gone — wouldn’t want to associated the golden arches with sadness now, would we? Colour grading seems to get subtly warmer too. Outside McDonald’s = cold, sad, lonely. Inside McDonald’s = warm, happy, social.

    1:16 Oh wow, who knew a Filet-o-Fish® could be so poetic? The moment he opened the packaging the connection to his father he so desperately longed to find was revealed. The memory box of his father’s personal possessions was useless; true solace is found in boxes of fatty fish segments hastily cooked from frozen by a minimum wage labourer.

    1:22 “Tartar sauce, all down his chin” — aww, it’s like the father/husband lives on through the son. May as well try and tap into that lucrative widowed/single mother market in the final few seconds I guess. Maybe the son isn’t such a bitter disappointment to his mother after all. Maybe the deceased live on through the condiments in McDonald’s. Hope for us all.

    Afterthought: We never discover who the unknown-boy is. One explanation could be that it is an older brother who died at around the protagonist's current age for the same reason as their late father; the mother is a feeder and emotionally manipulates her loved ones into eating McDonald’s until they die of coronary heart disease.

  • luluvox

    Truly baffling. But the MOST baffling thing about this ad is the throw-away line, "He liked techno?" that connects to absolutely nothing. Wtf, Leo?

  • Rebecca of Snowy-Kissed Farm

    This is supposed to be positive? Everything good and healthy about this poor kid's father, has passed out of his life along with his father. She gives him the impression that he's a slob who will never live up to his father's legacy, will look nothing like him or get a girl's attention. But the good news is that that's all okay, because he likes the same mayo-slopped, deep-fried, nutrient-free gut buster as he did. So it all evens out. Typical MacDonald's.

  • Seven Ellen

    I feel like this is more of an anti-McDonald's advert, because when the mum describers the father as 'big and cuddly', it's no doubt because he ate lots of McDonald's which was what killed him.

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