April 14, 2010

Still Not Lovin’ It

I visited McDonald’s for breakfast this morning, and was subjected to more goofy ad copy. (See my January 26 post, “Not Lovin’ It.”) The table at which I ate my meal had an advertisement on it for mocha and iced mocha. The product was described this way:
freshly ground espresso beans, smooth milk, & velvety chocolate
There are a number of problems here. First, there is really no such thing as “espresso beans.” Espresso is a method of brewing coffee, so any coffee beans used in an espresso machine are, by definition, espresso beans. But this isn’t saying much.

Then there is the matter of smooth milk. What is that? Does anyone think that McDonald’s might use lumpy milk? Clearly, some Madison Avenue type thought that an adjectiveAmpersands was needed to describe the milk in McDonald’s mocha and iced mocha. Could the agency really do no better than smooth? Why not fresh? The phrase smooth milk makes about as much sense as white milk or unspoiled milk.

Finally, there is that ampersand. Most authorities would say that the ampersand should have been replaced by “and”; space was not at a premium, and no other rule dictated the use of an ampersand. A more serious problem is the presence of the comma before the ampersand. It may not be a logical rule, but there is a rule that a comma never precedes an ampersand.

The ad was, at least for me, a total failure. Instead of making me think of the product, all I could do is analyze the copy. McDonald’s needs a new agency.


  1. I've begun to wonder if Madison Avenue isn't still about 40 years behind, still taking the pop-take on McLuhan as their guide.

    The consumer has become aware, so the tricks don't work. What about simply saying what you've got, why it's good and leaving it at that?

  2. Two additional points.

    Point the first: Flavored espresso drinks (whether latte, capuccino, etc.) are an abomination unto the Lord. It's in the Bible.

    Second, I've tried McDonald's espresso drinks. They suck.

    But I appreciate your analysis, too, Lionel. The darn ampersand & comma thing is also an abomination unto the Lord. That's in the Bible, too.


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