We’re Lovin’ All…?


 Swedish McDonalds Advertisement

Discuss how your example of a controversial text operates as a sign in terms of its denotation and connotation.

For controversial texts, this image is on point (controversial text game strong? no? okay…). A Swedish McDonald’s ad campaign causes confusion and controversy over the web as it alludes to extreme notions of racial discrimination.

When speaking of semiotics, the denotations and connotations differentiate with how you personally view the text. If you’re anything like me you will skip the fine print, which actually explains the meaning behind the McDonald’s advert. The denotation (explicit or direct meaning of a word or expression) is hidden in the fine print of the ad; “We hire individuals”. All written text, printed in yellow, is displayed on a red background, which symbolises/ represents McDonald’s as a company. The denotations of this advert juxtaposes with the connotations (ideas and feelings). The main signifier is the ‘negative;’ exclusive words (We don’t hire Turks, Greeks, Poles, Indians, Ethiopians, Vietnamese, Chinese or Peruvians), written to be the main focus for audiences. The connotations evoked become somewhat confused and possibly even disgusted.

Upon first glance of this text, individuals wouldn’t know that this was promoting equality in the workplace. From afar, individuals wouldn’t be able to read the fine print, leading them to believe McDonald’s was promoting racism/ racial discrimination. This controversial text could either be seen as extremely clever, as the shock factor draws you in, or it could be seen as extremely stupid. Unfortunately for McDonald’s this ad can be destructive, as consumers may start to reject the company and what they assume the company now stands for.

Do you think this style of advertising is clever, or just plain silly? Is there a limit to what can be used to shock consumers into going for their products?




6 thoughts on “We’re Lovin’ All…?”

  1. Very effective use of the McDonalds advertisement. As with many people viewing it, they would have skipped the fine-print and not read it at all until you mentioned it here in your blog post. This ad definitely stirred a lot of debate and criticism after it’s release and it is a great example to use when showing that denotations and connotations are viewed differently by individuals and different groups of people.
    T O D D

  2. When I first saw the picture, I thought this was just an extremely racist advertisement. I am not one to usually read the fine-print and didn’t until I rad your post. I agree with you that McDonalds would lose a lot of customers over this, because like me they skimmed past the fine-print and you bring up a good point of where is the limit to all of this. I believe that this ad holds more negative effects than positive and this post was very nicely written showing both sides to the story.

  3. Great post, I definitely think that some advertisers have no qualms in pushing the boundaries to shock consumers to draw them in. Although as you pointed out, these tactics may just ‘shock’ their customers away!

  4. Really liked this one, I was really shocked at first thinking how isn’t this all over the media with McDonalds being so racist! I can really see how it would stir up controversy, the fine print is the most important and you have discussed the denotations and connotations really well 🙂

  5. The way you’ve examined and totally dissected the meaning of this ad is remarkable! Even though it looks like such a simple image, the meanings and connotations you’ve talked about are so accurate and thought provoking! I agree with you when you say that this ad can be very destructive for McDonalds- I don’t think it was the best avenue to take if they wanted some shock factor. They could have done it in a more sophisticated way, because when I first saw this, my mind immediately jumped to racism – not the promotion for equality.

    P.S. I love that Mean Girls gif at the end 😉

    1. Thankyou! I couldn’t believe it when I first saw the ad. I kept coming back to it, and thought I may as well examine it if I’ve spent so much time thinking about it. I agree when you say they could have been more sophisticated about it. I did a little bit of research and it turns out a lot of Swedish ads are done in this way…

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