Mental illness is no joking matter – McDonald’s forced to pull mental illness parody ad

14 Apr












An article by Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY which discusses the pulling of a regional ad by Mc Donald’s really caught my attention.

Here’s a  quote from Bruce’s article  – “Following consumer complaints, a regional ad for its Big Mac that parodies mental illness — featuring a familiar photo of a woman who appears to be crying with her head in her hand — has been yanked by the fast-food giant from Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway trains. The headline in the ad states: “You’re not alone.” But the small print underneath says, “Millions of people love the Big Mac.”

Worst of all: The ad includes a toll-free phone number that connects consumers to McDonald’s customer satisfaction line. A recording asks consumers if they want to share an “experience” that they had at a McDonald’s restaurant.

“The worst possible situation is if someone in an emotional crisis were to see that image and call that number,” says Bob Carolla, spokesman for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “It would be a cruel mistake.” – End quote.

According to the World Health Organization, Depression, which is classified as a Mood Disorder, has increased in prevalence over the past ten (10) years.  Depression is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease and affects people in all communities across the world. Internationally, depression affects 350 million persons.  The World Mental Health Survey conducted in 17 countries found that on average about 1 in 20 people reported having an episode of depression.

Trinidad and Tobago is certainly not immune.  As many of you would recall, earlier this year the Honourable Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan indicated that approximately one quarter of  Trinidad’s population, or 1 in 4 persons, is afflicted by mental illness.  The Ministry of Health website indicates that mood disorders such as depression account for 30% of the reported cases of mental illness in Trinidad and Tobago.  The last Global School Health Survey (2007) conducted in Trinidad and Tobago revealed that 21.5 % of students felt sad or hopeless almost every day to the extent that they stopped doing their usual activities.  Hopefully, these statistics will raise the level of awareness among our population of the seriousness of mental disorders.

Hmmm…Mc Donald’s is big bucks but mental health awareness is increasing.  It’s sad that more sensitivity wasn’t paid by Mc Donalds to such a major issue.  Tell me what you think? to Do you think Mc Donald’s will be negatively affected by this ad?

You can read Bruce’s full article at


Francisca Jordan is an accomplished communications strategist and advisor with over (24) years experience in Corporate Communications, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service.  Ms Jordan has assisted several large and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in both the public and private sector by providing winning strategies that transform business, drive sales, engage customers, employees, and other stakeholders and increase brand value. 


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