If you’re going to co-opt imagery, it’s wise to check the source. In the case of McDonald’s commercial for its McWrap sandwich, the co-opted imagery, surprisingly enough, comes from pornography.
I’m not trying to call out McDonald’s. I’m drawing attention to the choices commercial producers make, consciously or unconsciously, and the way all imagery ultimately becomes public domain.
As the McWrap commercial begins, a woman looks longingly, flirtatiously, at a man. The Golden Arches frame her head like Playboy Bunny ears:
Now he unzips…er, unwraps, the object of her attention:
The McWrap stands, tempting and erect, at the center of the frame. She is drawn to it magnetically – the power of desire floats her across the restaurant. This is a classic porn trope, and you can imagine what would be in the center of the frame in a XXX-rated video. “Open up,” the narrator commands. Behind her, radiating imagery appears, opening like a flower. Let’s call her glide across the floor a McRite of Passage:
She can’t stop herself or her momentum; she almost takes it in her mouth:
Instead, she offers him something pink:
In any created construct, and a 30-second TV commercial is a highly created construct, everything is a choice. Her pink hoodie and drink, his blue shirt. Her inability to eat, his inability to talk. The heightened unwrapping sound.
Dr. Marcia Dawkins, an keen observer of race and culture, draws attention to the racial casting and notes that the music’s drum beat calls to mind the “’jungle’ trope that goes along with the very colorful imagery (i.e., food explosion/orgasm) behind the female.”
What should we make of all this? We live in a mash-up world. Imagery begins in one place, then moves to another. We’re used to porn videos co-opting and parodying legit titles – Buffy the Vampire Layer, Everybody Does Raymond, and the like. This may be the first instance where a mainstream name-brand company turns the tables.
You can watch the whole McWrap commercial here: