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McDonald’s latest ads are just a bunch of pixels. And they’re brilliant

McDonald’s France continues its years long tradition of a delightfully minimalist approach to advertising the Golden Arches.

McDonald’s latest ads are just a bunch of pixels. And they’re brilliant
[Photo: McDonald’s]
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Pixelated images are typically reserved for unlicensed logos, nudity, or a terrible internet connection. McDonald’s in France, however, is using it in a clever new way: to advertise the reopening of its restaurants.

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The ads are 70-pixel images of Golden Arches classics with a tagline “Guess who’s back.” The combination of colors are almost indistinguishable, except for one thing—we’ve all seen so many McD’s ads in our lifetime that they’re actually immediately recognizable. That collage of browns, tans, and green? A Big Mac, course. Bright yellow, fading into a stark red? You know it’s the fries.

[Photo: McDonald’s]
Created by agency TBWA\Paris, the new campaign is consistent with the witty and artful minimalism the brand and agency have been playing with for years. In 2014, it was flattened, emoji-like illustrations. In 2019, it was rain-spotted window views of the City of Love to promote McDonald’s delivery, as well as deserted night streets to promote late-night hours. Then last year, the brand made posters featuring close-up shots of classic menu items, with big bites taken out of the entire billboard. What they all have in common is a winking self-awareness of the brand. It knows how ubiquitous it is, and isn’t apologizing for it. Instead, it’s celebrating that familiarity in increasingly creative ways.

The brand in the United States, and globally, has recently stepped up its efforts to tap into pop culture, through branded merchandise drops, and Famous Meals collaborations with stars like Travis Scott, J Balvin, and BTS. These ads are obviously much quieter, but they reinforce the idea that McDonald’s has completely embedded itself in our collective culture—no matter how blurry it gets.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity.

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