Beef over 'Prince' in McDonald's hamburger ad

23 May 2018 - 11:18
By Petru Saal
This McDonald’s South Africa ad has got some people hot under the collar.
Image: McDonald’s South Africa/YouTube This McDonald’s South Africa ad has got some people hot under the collar.

Do you have a beef with the late pop star Prince‚ a staunch vegan‚ being used to sell hamburgers?

That’s the question which had to be answered after a McDonald’s South Africa television commercial was screened on SABC3‚ promoting its BigMacYourWay campaign.

Jacob Mogano complained to the country’s advertising watchdog‚ the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA)‚ that the ad misrepresented the singer’s legacy because he was outspoken about not eating meat. Mongano also said the fast-food giant had no authority to decide how the late pop star should be represented because he died a vegan.

In the advert different superhero characters are played by a man and a woman sitting in a McDonald’s store. The duo transform into a new outrageous character several times. In one of the transformations‚ the woman in a yellow fur coat takes a selfie and says she "Big Macs pretty”.

The man‚ resembling the late pop star‚ appears behind her with a guitar and replies: “Girl please‚ I Big Mac like Prince”.

In their response‚ McDonald’s South Africa said the advert should be “viewed from a hypothetical reasonable person’s view who is neither hypersensitive nor hypercritical”.

They explained that the commercial was not about Prince‚ the artist‚ but rather two young adults who are playing a game of one-upmanship and trying to be cooler than their friend. The advert was meant both humorous and a hyperbole and should not be taken literally.

In his pro-vegan song Animal Kingdom‚ the pop star made it clear that eating animal meat was not his way of life.

“No member of the animal kingdom nurses past maturity. No member of the animal kingdom ever did a thing to me. It's why I don't eat red meat or white fish. Don't give me no blue cheese. We're all members of the animal kingdom. Leave your brothers and sisters in the sea‚” were his lyrics.

In the second verse‚ Prince says: “Who told us we should eat the swine? You can bet your final money it damn sure wasn't no friend of mine.”

In a lengthy response to both parties concerned‚ the ASA said the character depicted was clearly dressed up to look like Prince.

“(Mogano’s) concern emanates from the fact the commercial shows a superhero character portrayed as Prince‚ the late music artist‚ associated with burgers‚ when he in fact was a vegan at the time that he passed away.

“The association distorts Prince’s legacy and same deserves to be protected and defended‚” the ASA ruled. However‚ the ASA said that viewers should not see the advert as an endorsement by Prince or his estate.

“The execution of the commercial is over the top and exaggerated. The man who is dressed up as Prince is not in fact Prince‚ and the communication is clearly that he strives to be as cool as Prince. The emphasis is on how cool Prince is‚ and not on eating meat. The Prince character is‚ in fact‚ never shown eating the burger.”

And the final verdict? The complaint was dismissed.