Guilty Planet

McDonald’s launched this ad for for their Filet-O-Fish sandwich this year (just in time for Lent). Their marketing strategy is an interesting one: a rare reminder that the fish you’re eating comes from an animal that was once alive.

What if it were you hanging up on this wall?
If it were you in that sandwich, you wouldn’t be laughing at all.


  1. #1 Julie Stahlhut
    June 25, 2009

    Somehow there’s an oblique reference to transubstantiation in there. But I’m no longer Catholic, and I don’t want to think about it ….

  2. #2 The Science Pundit
    June 25, 2009

    They’ve been trying a lot of new and (ahem) controversial things in their ads lately.

  3. #3 cm
    June 25, 2009

    This is a reversal-in-letter-but-not-in-spirit of “suicide food”, ads that show animals that want to be eaten, nicely cataloged on this funny and insightful blog:

    Here, this wall trout seems to be singing that fish ought not to be eaten, but the goofiness of its display so undermines its message that what is put across by McDonalds is that it is harmless and fun to eat fish. Fish are not animals, they are animated yet fake toys, even as you eat them. In this sense, the wall trout represents a suicide food by so undermining the idea that one should not eat his kind that he is actually promoting it.

  4. #4 george.w
    June 25, 2009

    This goes all the way back to Charlie the tuna. As a kid I always wondered about that; “Sorry, Charlie.”

    There are some fish that make sense to eat; the Illinois river is full of some invasive species of Chinese carp. They’re big and apparently quite tasty but they look weird and nobody eats them locally. A local fisherman ships them by the ton to coastal restaurants.

  5. #5 Joe
    June 25, 2009

    Thats pretty bad, but I think the Chic-fil-A commercials with cows trying to convince you its better to eat chickens is even worse. Chick-fil-a bases their entire marketing strategy on that campaign.

  6. #6 Laborum
    June 26, 2009

    Hey! Those Chick-fil-A ads are pretty funny. I still eat as much beef as chicken (I can’t stand the taste of fish), but the cow playing the self-preservation card was a fun idea.

  7. #7 MattL
    June 26, 2009

    That has be one of the worst McDonald’s commercials ever. I’m more troubled by all the plastic, Styrofoam and other pollutants they produce. Fish is only a tiny section of the menu.

  8. #8 Carlie
    June 26, 2009

    Of course, being the internet, there is an entire blog devoted to this subject.

  9. #9 Chris
    June 27, 2009

    Thank you for this posting. I have been pondering it along with your other posts.

    Last night I dreamt about locusts, but not of the Acrididae kind. It was the kind of dream where I wake up and have a really bad psychic neural hangover for most of the day, and I do not drink alcohol. Television commercials [corporate commercial free market warfare] promoting ‘cheap’ endless copious consumption of all food supplies in a finite biosphere give me these kinds of uncomfortable dreams too, though I am not sure they are dreams…

    I comprehend external realities about economic food security, resource conservation and advertising differently in extreme ways, as I grew up surrounded by intense third world poverty. My baseline, is from 1960, when my first (non happy meal) memories about real food poverty, and people in starvation mode interactions began implementing themselves at the age of three… So, personally, I do not find much amusement, or honest beneficial/educational value in the contemporary use of the ‘Tele-Viewing’ technology that conjures up false, or confusing thinking about perpetual food buffets without consequence. But, I do believe firmly in a free market, and in non censored freedom of expression, so I do appreciate being able to study the operational mind sets of manipulation marketing philosophy that is not based in sustainable critical thinking and survival.

    Right now, I am struggling with the delicate exploration of the feasible dynamics of educational [forward thinking] marketing versus profit driven consumption marketing that offers beneficial intellectual and emotional alternatives, for the growing consensus of people that believe on many diverse levels that food security is becoming our next big Y2K. Only, this preparation phase is much more complicated, and the potentiality of collapsing food supplies is not limited to rumor problems caused by theoretical future computing engineering failures.

  10. #10 jim
    June 29, 2009

    Chris, to help lessen your anxiety…its made from Alaskan pollock which has gotten a sustainable ranking from several NGOs and according the NMFS stock assessments is not overfished… at least 75% of it is Pollock… the rest is fillers.

  11. #11 travc
    July 1, 2009

    I actually liked that commercial, mildly at least.

    It makes sense for McDonald’s since they are trying to convince people their highly processed foods are actually, well, real food. On some things, they are actually reasonably good social conscious wise… though always in service of profits. A lot like Walmart, when it is in their interest to actually do something good, they can be very powerful. However, they are amoral at the core.

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