I’m about to get my “rant on”. (That didn’t take long, huh?)
On Friday, my Facebook news feed “blew up” with links and photos pertaining to the whole McDonalds vs Pitbulls thing. If you haven’t heard, McDonald’s recently aired an ad that makes reference to the dangers of pitbulls. If you haven’t heard it, you can listen to the ad here.
Do I support their ad? Nope. Do I think it was in poor taste, and detrimental to all the hard work being put in by pitbull advocates to change the way the dogs are portrayed in the media? Absolutely. Am I going to join in on the boycott, or join any of the Facebook pages crying out for boycotts? No, I am not – and here’s why.
1. For starters, the ad has been pulled and McDonalds has apologized.
When this ad first came to light, the websites and Facebook pages were all calling for an apology and for the ad to be taken off the air. McDonald’s very quickly complied; they issued a public apology and pulled the ads. Now the Facebook groups are all saying “An apology? So what?? That’s not nearly good enough – we want ads that promote pitbulls / large donations to rescue groups – and we’re boycotting until that happens!” In my opinion, that is wishy-washy and frankly, unreasonable. McDonalds didn’t set out to make an ad with the intention of blasting pitbulls. They set out to make an ad that sold new menu items, and they tried to do it with humor, and they failed.
I would love to see McDonalds (or any other large corporation) make a sizeable donation to a rescue group or “join the cause”, but really, it has nothing to do with their bottom line and I think it’s highly unlikely that it will happen.
2. I doubt McDonalds even wrote the ad – it’s more likely that a marketing company did.
I’ve been a web designer / web developer for about 12 years. In that time, I have worked with too many marketing people / teams to count. I have seen marketing concepts fail on a much less spectacular level, and I have seen the repercussions for a marketing team that screwed up. I don’t work for McDonalds headquarters, and I can’t say with any certainty what the outcry over this ad has caused, but I think that it’s highly likely that a marketing firm just lost one of their largest clients. It’s probably also likely that someone – or multiple someones – have lost their jobs as well, although I can’t guarantee it. What I can guarantee is that this wasn’t simply an “oh look, they don’t like our ad – just pull it and forget it” situation. And while again, I do not endorse their message, I do feel bad for the person who came up with it.
3. The person who wrote the creative for the ad probably didn’t even know that pitbulls are unjustly stereotyped.
Nobody knows everything. The reason we are all fighting so hard to change public perception of pitbulls is because they are portrayed as menacing killing machines by the media, and that is what the general public sees. Most of the pitbull advocates that I’ve seen have experience with pitbulls – they’ve been family pets, or they’ve worked with them in some capacity or another, or their childhood best friend had a pitbull that they adored. If you haven’t experienced pitbulls in your life, you probably don’t know much about them… so when the media is reporting attacks and viciousness at every turn and that is your only insight, that is what you’ll take away. Think about the thing you’re afraid of. Why are you afraid of it? I live in Ontario, far from the ocean, and have never travelled. I have zero personal experience or knowledge of sharks, but I have seen Jaws and I have read news reports about shark attacks, and I think sharks are the most terrifying thing ever and oceans are to be avoided. I bet if I talked to someone who’s been swimming with sharks or surfs without incident every day, they’d have a very different – and more knowledgable – perspective.
4. Frankly, I think some of the “advocates” are doing more harm than good, and I don’t want to be associated with them.
Yep. It’s a bold statement, I know, and I feel like it needs some clarification.
I am all for voicing your opinion and taking a stand against injustice. I will happily partner up with rescue groups or advocates who are peacefully and respectfully doing their part to reverse BSL, rescue or foster dogs, or raise awareness for bully breeds. However, I think that if you demand an apology and the removal of an ad, and a corporation complies – quickly – with your wishes, and then you turn around and demand more from them? That’s not helping anymore; that’s hurting your credibility. Maybe next time they won’t bother to apologize or remove ads, because it wasn’t “good enough”.
Even more, the comments on the Facebook pages and in the comments section of news articles are just ridiculous. It’s one thing to post a picture like this in response to the ad:
Or one like this:
It’s a whole other thing to post comments like this:
Or like this:
Sorry, but that’s not the kind of “advocate” that I want to throw my hat in with. In my opinion, it’s comments like those that are doing more harm to the breed image… A big part of the argument against pitbulls is that they end up in the hands of irresponsible people who would use them for image or to appear threatening, so when you start throwing around expletives or threats, you instantly become part of the problem in my eyes.
I don’t eat at McDonalds very frequently, nor am I about to start. But I’m also not about to join a boycott over an ad that’s been pulled and apologized for. Maybe it’s not enough of an effort to most, but I think that the outcry and the apology have already done more for public awareness than a boycott will, and that’s a good thing to me.
What do you think? Will you be joining the boycott, or do you think the apology was enough?