Smile Politely

I’m Lovin’ It

Adbusters, a cultural watchdog magazine, has described hipsters as being the ” dead end of Western Civilization. ” Hipsters describe themselves as “everyone exactly like me, excluding me.” Basically, this self-loathing group is not new to serious social criticism.

But I find that the newest criticism is coming from an unusual place; McDonald’s. Yes, McDonald’s has taken on the hipster-menace by airing some recent advertisements promoting their new gourmet coffee brand, Mc Cafe. A radio ad entitled “Confessions of an Ex-Hipster” is narrated by a man who admitted that he once wore “black turtlenecks,” didn’t shower, liked “French films” and listened to “indie-rock,” but because of McDonald’s Mc Cafe he no longer has to sulk in a dark, independently-owned coffee house and keep up with his sham of an identity . Now, as he tells the radio audience, he can watch football, high five and conform to society’s view of the 18-34 year old male. Hurray for corporate America!

Thank you Mc Donald’s. I hope you come out with a “Confessions of an Ex-Career Oriented Woman” advertisement next. But to dive deeper into McDonald’s newest campaign, let’s take a look at the television companion entitled “Hipsters.”

I actually think this commercial isn’t as personally upsetting as the radio ad. It’s pretty well acted too. The only thing that throws me for a loop is the title. Why is it called “Hipsters?” They seem like out of place Beatniks (1940’s hipsters, I suppose) or bookish Grad Students. It looks like they are very concerned with showering. They also seem decidedly unironic, and irony seems to be the only overarching theme of hipsterdom. Where are the deep v-neck t-shirts? Where is the image-obsessed culture dominated by music and fashion? Why isn’t MGMT, or some other major label electro-pop trash, playing in the background?

The fact that I don’t like MGMT isn’t the point here. It just illustrates the complete lack of understanding on Mc Donald’s part. Sure, “hipster” is a hard term to identify with a constantly evolving definition, but then the word should have been avoided all together.

Why are they even hating on hipsters? Is it because vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are associated with the term? Is it because the man who is trying to take single handedly take down the fast-food chain, Hamburglar, kind of looks like one? Most likely, they’re trying to attract the attention of people who fit in the loosely defined category the ads are mocking. Either way, Mc Donald’s has proven they have no idea who are the people they are trying to market to. Flashback to a controversial banner ad that ran a couple years ago:

Why wouldn’t that young, presumably urban young man want to have sex with such a sensually affordable sandwich? He’s a dollar menu guy! The hipster ads aren’t nearly as offensive in their misunderstanding of vernacular and culture, but Mc Donald’s has a bit of a theme going. There are plenty of ads the company has put out that stereotype and trivialize the demographics they are trying to reach.

The experts say that 50% of advertisements are effective. The problem (or the profit if you’re in the ad industry) is that there isn’t a good way to tell which 50% is the one that’s selling your product. I can honestly say that this particular campaign is not in the favorable half.

Let’s be real. They should just bring back Mayor Mc Cheese:

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