As I’ve written many times (and will no doubt write many times more), I enjoy watching old VHS tapes in my collection because they provide time-capsule-like snapshots of a certain era. You get a glimpse of what folks were obsessed with back then–or what their corporate overlords DEMANDED they be obsessed with.
Prime example: McDonald’s. Being the unstoppable behemoth they are, advertising is virtually pointless for them. Unless they’re introducing a new product or promoting a sale, there’s really no way for them to increase McDonalds awareness, or no reason to, either.
Problem is, McDonalds has an advertising budget that dwarfs the GDP of several African nations, and them bucks gotta be spent somewhere! So sometimes they devote said bucks to idiosyncratic campaigns whose aims aren’t exactly clear when the commercials first air, and become progressively dimmer with the passing of time. For instance, I have many McDonalds ads from the mid-80s in my YouTube collection that involve people dancing. Not just a few steps, either. I’m talking like Busby Berkeley showstoppers. Did anybody want to see this 25 years ago? I doubt it, but these ads look a hundred times weirder now.
But that’s a subject for another time (or never; never works, too). This is all a lead in to tell you that I was recently reminded of an odd ad campaign McDonalds ran in my youth. (What reminded me? My brain, because it hates me.) They had several commercials in which the HOTNESS of their food was heavily emphasized. Me, I think heat is an assumed quality of all food, non-gazpacho edition. But for some reason, circa 1985, McDonalds was all like NO, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. OUR FOOD IS REALLY REALLY HOT AND THIS IS A CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION. It seems ironic in retrospect, considering they were eventually sued for almost burning someone’s face off with coffee.
My efforts to find out exactly why McDonalds did this (i.e., googling) have been fruitless. The only theory I have is that these debuted around the same time as Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” ads. So perhaps this was McDonalds reaction to Wendy’s needling of the size of their meat. “Oh yeah, you think your burgers are bigger? Well, ours are hotter. Take that, assholes.”
So that you may be as baffled as I, here are a few humble examples.