McDonald’s "Pay with Lovin'" campaign crosses a red line

McDonald’s "Pay with Lovin'" campaign crosses a red line

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Chips in exchange for expressions of love – cheapens love and cheapens relationship

Money can't buy you love, but these days your love may just buy you a burger at McDonald's. On Feb. 2nd, the fast food chain launched the Super Bowl XLIX Pay with Lovin' campaign in the US, which will run until Valentine’s Day and be accompanied by advertising during the Super Bowl

As part of the campaign, random customers in random restaurants of McDonald’s across the US will get opportunity to pay for their meal in a random acts of lovin': a family hug, a phone call to a loved one, a kiss blown in the air, and so on

The happy candidates to win are randomly chosen by the restaurant's Lovin' Lead manager, and it is he or she who will set the “price” they'll be asked to pay. McDonald's Corporation announced that even people entering a restaurant not to buy but simply to go to the bathroom, could be lucky winners. Love, as is known, warmly welcomes everyone

Consumers are looking for brands with social agenda

The campaign is part of a new marketing strategy at McDonald's to bring love to the world. They're not the first brand to do so. At Super Bowl 2014, Unilever's Axe brand took the step of launching its ‘Make Love Not War’ campaign through social involvement in the community

A recently published Nielsen report shows consistent increase in worldwide consumer preference for brands identified with social responsibility. Consumers are looking for authenticity, caring, and the human values behind the scenes of the brand and the corporation

It is not surprising, therefore, to find that more and more leading brands are moving to a social agenda: some choose to empower women or girls, others enable consumers to help the needy, and there are those that carry out “random acts of kindness”. Such campaigns succeed in boosting brand popularity and create positive conversation on social media

Everything is permitted in love and war; not so in marketing

Although I am an avid supporter of brand campaigns that attempt to create a positive social impact, the present campaign of McDonald’s leaves me with a sense of discomfort. It crosses a red line. This line may be a little difficult to see, but it's nevertheless dangerous to cross

There is a difference between encouraging people to empathize with others, and converting their expressions of love into currency, into a commodity. Once love is expressed simply to receive a gift, it is not love – it is utilitarianism, making it the very opposite of love. Meaningful emotion is stripped of its content, and becomes the product itself. This is the difference between genuinely caring and brazen manipulation

Brands may arouse our emotions, but at the end of the day we have to remember that they are just a brand – a product or a service in image packaging. Packaging should not try to be the essence, a substitute for a relationship. A shift manager is not meant to suggest that a customer tell her son what she loves in him. Chips in exchange for expressions of love – cheapens love and cheapens relationships

To best understand the difference between real love and a sales promotion campaign, it’s enough to visit the website that specifies the conditions for receiving a meal for love. There are lots of clauses and plenty of small print – just the opposite of love

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