The Parents Television Council is calling on McDonald’s to reconsider its sponsorship of VH1’s “Dating Naked,” a reality show with contestants who date each other in the nude, citing the McDonald’s CEO’s desire to become a “more trusted and respected brand.” McDonald’s ads were found on the 7/17 premiere episode and nearly all of the repeat airings of that episode.
“McDonald’s is admittedly struggling with its brand image, yet the Happy Meal company executives think it appropriate to sponsor naked-dating on television. As part of its marketing review, the folks in Oak Brook need to hire Captain Obvious. The title alone should put the program on the company’s do-not-buy list. We urge McDonald’s to reconsider its sponsorship of any and all future episodes of this show,” said PTC President Tim Winter.
According to the Chicago Business Journal, McDonald’s will be re-evaluating its marketing strategy due to poor sales. McDonald’s “will try to become a ‘more trusted and respected brand,’ in the words of CEO Don Thompson, by re-evaluating its customer service, menu, and marketing practices.”
“The juxtaposition of this historically family brand with such explicit content is shocking. Unless and until McDonald’s returns to being a responsible advertiser, we would advise consumers to take their business to competitors whose values more closely reflect their own. Wendy’s, for example, has consistently matched its positive brand image with responsible media-buying standards. And they are quickly catching up with McDonald’s in terms of sales, while returning higher value to shareholders,” Winter said.
Notably, the PTC earlier this year called on McDonald’s to change its advertising practices, reported that they are among the worst in the country. The company’s ads often sponsor violent or sexually graphic television programming, despite that in previous years it was among the PTC’s “best” advertisers.
“[I]t is not a coincidence that at the same time McDonald’s abandoned its family focus, sales started to decline,” said Winter in an April letter to Thompson.
The PTC pre-emptively warned advertisers about “Dating Naked,” saying in a statement that, “We will be holding publicly to account any companies and products that choose to advertise on the premiere of this program and on any subsequent episodes.”