McD's ad

Read the following stimulus text, guiding question and the student's response. Apply the P1 assessment criteria and discuss the marks that you would award the script before reading the examiner's marks and comments. How different were your marks and comments from the examiner's marks and comments? What improvements could be made to this student's response, in order to achieve better results?

From the McDonald's Corporation, 1973 

Guiding question: How does this text use language and image to appeal to its target audience?

Racism in advertising is a prevalent issue that needs to be addressed, and awareness of this problem should spread, so that it can be prevented. While this ad by McDonald’s may have been successful in targeting the African-American community in its day, it may be considered condescending and harmful today. Through the use of diction, camera angle and the bandwagon effect, this advertisement is both effective and yet condescending. 

This advertisement uses diction to try to relate to its target audience and and appeal to its readers. This use of diction, however, may be considered racist, as it plays on stereotypes. McDonald’s uses phrases including “gettin’ down” to communicate that black people are welcome at its restaurants. Throughout the advertisement ellipses are used in replacement of ‘g’s at the end of verbs, “can you dig where they’re comin’ from?” This is the language of ‘jive’ or African American Vernacular English. The advertisement uses this kind of diction to communicate to the reader in a way that they believe is relatable, but it can be perceived as patronising if you consider that the ad was written by a multinational corporation which was probably owned and run by white people. In other words this use of language is an example of cultural appropriation. 

This ad makes another mistake in trying to appeal to its audience. The use of camera angle and lighting also adds to the condescension. In this McDonald’s ad the camera is angled down on the people in it, as if the objects are look down on and less important than the viewer. This plays on notions of superiority and inferiority. Although this may not be  not the company’s intention, the reader can think it is offensive. The lighting in this advertisement is also very dark and the colours are very muted due to this lighting. This makes the reader feel a sense of warmth, as however the darkness draws away from the warm atmosphere. Through the use of camera angles and lighting, this McDonalds advertisement is partly effective in welcoming African Americans and yet it can be perceived as negative by African Americans.

Furthermore, this advertisement uses the bandwagon effect to appeal to its target audience’s sense of belonging. This advertisement states that “Maurice and his lady [are] gettin’ down with some cheeseburgers.” This makes the reader want to go to McDonalds by appealing to their need for inclusion and the mindset that if someone else is doing it, they should too. What’s more, the couple appears to be in love, by the looks on their faces, making the reader associate McDonald’s with love and think it is an appropriate place for a date. By including only African-American people in the advertisement, it also shows the reader that McDonald's is anti-segregation. While this may make African-Americans feel welcomed at McDonald’s, it may also make them wonder where all the white people are and if McDonald’s is for integration at their restaurants. 

This advertisement uses many techniques in order to convey its message to the reader. Its message, however, may be dated. Some of the techniques used like diction and camera angle would appear patronising to the African-American community today. It may have seemed welcoming to those who were unaware back then, but can also come off as offensive today. Any kind of racism or cultural appropriation in advertising must be stopped, and in order to do this, awareness needs to be spread so this problem can be prevented in the future.

Criterion A: Knowledge, understanding and interpretation – 5 out of 5

The student’s interpretation of this advertisement is excellent, as  it explores how the ad would be received both the 'then' and 'now'. There is excellent awareness of bigger issues, such as 'cultural appropriation' and segregation. References to the stimulus text are consistently related back to these bigger points. 

Criterion B: Analysis and evaluation – 5 out of 5

The student clearly defines two stylistic features, diction and camera angle, and an advertising technique, namely the bandwagon effect. The effects of these features and techniques are explored and developed, both in how they may be helpful and harmful to the conversation on race relations in the US in the 1970s and now. 

Criterion C: Coherence, focus and organisation - 5 out of 5

The analysis is organised coherently and effectively. Although it is rather short in extent, it is very focused and structured. Body paragraphs are organised around stylistic features and advertising techniques. The paragraphs follow a clear PEEL structure (Point, Evidence, Explain, Link)

Criterion D: Language - 5 out of 5

Sentence structures are varied, vocabulary is appropriate and the register is academic. Words such as 'cultural appropriation' are excellent. The analysis reads well, thanks to good punctuation and syntax. 

Last modified: Wednesday, 7 October 2020, 12:41 PM