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Forget ‘Maccies’ and ‘Donnies’ - how about McGenocide? The McDonald's ad that misses the mark

June 24, 2024 at 8:22 am

Banners and photos showing explaining Israel’s attacks in Gaza Strip are seen in front of the McDonald’s branch as a group of protestors gathered in front of McDonald’s branch in Rotterdam city center, carrying banners against Israel and the company on April 28, 2024 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. [Abdullah Aşıran – Anadolu Agency]

McDonald’s latest ‘Make it yours’ advert, crafted by Leo Burnett UK and directed by Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright, embraces the youthful slang that rebrands the global fast food giant as “Maccies,” “McDizzles,” and other quirky names while celebrating “McDonald’s place in British culture.”

The one-minute commercial, part of the ‘Raise your Arches’ campaign is also notable in being the first McDonald’s campaign explicitly aimed at 16 to 24-year-olds. This campaign, which does not feature food, restaurants, or even the full brand name, aims to highlight the cultural and social importance of McDonald’s in the lives of young people.

However, aside from leaving some older observers bemused at the inclusion of the term “Donnies” – one Reddit user remarked that “It almost sounds like a deliberate and false addition to the standard nicknames to get people to think about it and discuss it” – this approach fails to resonate with a significant portion of its intended audience: youths who are acutely aware of global issues, particularly the ongoing genocide in Gaza.


Today’s youth are more tech-savvy and socially conscious than ever. They are deeply engaged with global issues, including the humanitarian crisis in Gaza inflicted by the US-backed, Israeli military.

As a demographic that is highly active on social media platforms, where information spreads rapidly, especially regarding injustices and social activism, the war on Gaza has sparked a massive response from young people around the world, many of whom have revitalised the anti-Israel boycott movement.

McDonald’s did itself no favours when its Israeli franchise provided free meals to Israeli occupation soldiers, practically fuelling genocide and other war crimes. This in turn made the youth more socially conscious about the brand and its indirect support for what is taking place in Gaza, leading to a decline in its reputation and profits in certain regions. McDonald’s even had to buy back all of its Israeli restaurants over the controversy with the occupation soldiers.

In February, McDonald’s acknowledged Israel’s war on Gaza as a factor in missing its first quarterly sales target in nearly four years.


Starbucks, another major brand, has also been significantly impacted by boycott movements due to similar controversies. The company reported a downturn in traffic and sales, attributing this decline to the global boycott sparked by its support for Israel. Starbucks has recently introduced half-price coffee promotions to counteract the negative financial impact, only to be met with further validation of the boycott movement.


The university student population, a key segment of McDonald’s target audience, has been particularly vocal in the boycott movements. Many university campuses in the US and around the world have seen protests and campaigns calling for university divestment and the boycott of companies like McDonald’s and Starbucks over their perceived pro-Zionist tendencies. This demographic’s activism is shaping public opinion and affecting corporate sales as students advocate for ethical business practices and human rights, and will likely have an impact on upcoming elections on both sides of the Atlantic.


By focusing on light-hearted and culturally resonant themes, McDonald’s latest advert fails to address the deeper concerns of its audience. The campaign’s playful approach contrasts sharply with the serious ethical considerations that are top of mind for many young people today. While the advert aims to evoke a sense of community and belonging, it overlooks the prominence of social and political awareness among the supposed target market.

The advert might have hit the mark in terms of creativity and cultural relevance in a simpler time.

However, in today’s world, where youth are deeply engaged in social justice issues and highly critical of corporate ethics, such an advert appears out of touch and comes off as a desperate attempt to stay relevant.

Otherwise catchy nicknames like “Maccies” might just be overshadowed by more critical labels should the brand continue to be perceived as indirectly enabling or playing a role in the Gaza genocide.

Speaking on the new advert, Leo Burnett UK executive creative directors (ECDs), Andrew Long and James Millers were quoted as saying: “Whether it’s Maccers, McD’s or even McDizzles, young adults all have their own slang for McDonald’s.”

That may be true, however, it seems the advertising executives may have overlooked another term that is gaining traction among the youth—”McGenocide.”

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.