This post is part of our Ads Gone Bad series. Share your thoughts and memories of this ad in the comments, and be sure to check out our other posts on marketing gone wrong.
As a 40-something trying -- but hopefully not too hard -- to cling to an increasingly tenuous understanding of current youth culture, I can imagine how McDonald's ad execs made the perilous mistake that landed them on our list of Ads Gone Bad.
It was probably a gathering of 40-something copywriters in a conference room in mid-town Manhattan. (I just finished reading Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, so now I think I'm an expert in such things). They were no doubt tossing around the latest slang that might play off McDonald's winning slogan "I'm Lovin' It."
Someone threw out, "I'd Hit It," and everyone pounced on it as a sure winner. Perfect for banner ads on websites.
But did anyone dare ask what it actually meant?
Apparently not. Or not until it was too late. The banner ads ran on places such as ESPN.com in late 2007. A young man looks longingly at a double cheeseburger. Then the ad flashes "I'd hit it."
What it meant -- as seems obvious from this vantage point -- is "I'd like to have sex with him or her." The MIT Brand Culture blog notes, "the slogan sounds somewhat strange in the context of hamburger advertising."
The target audience McDonald's hoped to reach found the gaffe so humorous that they created parodies. One on the MIT blog spoofs, "I'd hop on that like it was prom night."
The ad didn't run long, but lives on today on blogs and in parodies around the internet -- and as a lesson for marketing pros: If you're going to borrow from youth slang to sell a product, make sure you know what the phrase really means.
See other examples of Ads Gone Bad.
|An incredible blunder||399 (52.4%)|
|Savvy marketing||171 (22.5%)|
|Don't know, don't care||191 (25.1%)|