Rachel Yan/Shanghai Daily news
Shanghai Television Station has stopped running a controversial
commercial for McDonald's, that has already been pulled off the air in Xi'an and
Chengdu after consumers in those cities made it clear they weren't lovin'
The ad shows a man on his knees begging for a discount - a culturally
sensitive position in China.
Advertisement managers at STV said yesterday
they removed the ad on Tuesday at the request of Optimum Media Direction,
McDonald's advertisement agency. When a Shanghai Daily reporter called OMD
yesterday, an employee surnamed She hung up as soon as the reporter identified
McDonald's (China) Co Ltd did extend its regrets for any possible
misunderstanding the ad caused among consumers in a written statement sent to
Shanghai Daily on Tuesday.
"We meant to inform consumers that McDonald's
would offer delicious food to our customers all year round by adopting humorous
and attractive techniques," the statement said.
Many people in Xi'an, Chengdu
and Shanghai found the ad neither humorous nor attractive.
At the end of a
30-second TV ad promoting the fast-food chains' discounted prices, a middle-aged
Chinese man gets down on his knees to beg for a discount from a video
A voice-over states that McDonald's understands people are sad
when they miss a good opportunity, so the company is offering discounts 365 days
Though the shot of customer on his knees lasts for less than five
seconds, it has triggered strong opposition from consumers.
"It is an insult
to consumers," said Yuan Genbao, a local resident. "The shot makes us feel as if
McDonald's is giving alms to customers by offering discounted products, just
like showing mercy to beggars."
Jiang Zhibin, dean of the advertising
department at Shanghai International Studies University, said the ad was
inappropriate as it ignores traditional Chinese culture and
"Getting down on one's knees is always considered a humiliation and
something of indignity for most Chinese," Jiang said. "People will wonder if
there is any implication of unfairness between the company and consumers with
Though the country's advertising law didn't set clear rules about
such ads, the commercial shows disrespect for the country's cultural traditions,
Owing to the social pressure, McDonald's in Xi'an, capital of
Shaanxi Province, withdrew the ad on Monday.