Many in the liberal news media again demonstrated their inability (or unwillingness) to identify communism when they see it.
Fast food restaurant Taco Bell “pulled out all the stops” with its new ad released March 24, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Although the ad did not mention McDonald’s by name, The Daily Mail also said the video portrayed “McDonald’s as a communist dictatorship where boring breakfasts rule.”
However, several news outlets, including Associated Press, either failed to understand the nods to communism or simply ignored the connection. Only a few sources including The Hollywood Reporter noted that a new Taco Bell ad obviously “painted McDonald's as a communist state.”
Taco Bell’s ad followed two young people escaping a gulag called the “Routine Republic,” where they were forced to eat breakfast sandwiches that looked similar to a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin. They were chased by creepy clown soldiers who resembled Ronald McDonald dressed in Soviet-era garb.
Socialist-style propaganda, drab architecture and an emphasis on “same, same, same” as “good, good, good” also hailed back to communism in the USSR. The ad even featured The Ramones’ punk rock song “Blitzkrieg Bop,” a reference to totalitarian Nazi Germany.
Instead of comparing the ad’s setting to a communist state, the March 24 USA Today called the ad “reminiscent of Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, escaping their Insurgent and Divergent-like lifestyle by pushing away from clown-faced guards whose faces look suspiciously like pathetically sad Ronald McDonalds.” No mention of communism.
Fortune Magazine also relied on pop culture for its comparison and failed to bring up communism on March 25. The article said the ad “follows a man and a woman escaping from a Hunger Games-esque setting in search of a better breakfast.”
The March 24 Los Angeles Times hinted when it said that a “clown-faced military dictator” distributed sandwiches to “patrons” in the ad.
Among the few outlets that recognized the allusion to communism, not everyone agreed that Taco Bell’s comparison was appropriate. Chicago Business Journal’s Assistant News Editor David Arnott argued on March 25 that “Taco Bell shouldn’t have been so direct about equating McDonald’s with governments that killed millions of people.”
Marketing publication Adweek called it “insensitive” on March 24.
“The visuals nicely mimic the state-sanctioned artwork of the communist era—e.g., majestic sunburst portraits, imposing statues,” Adweek said. But they added that “the frivolous McDespot comparison is also perhaps a touch insensitive, given, you know, the mass killings and other atrocities that marked the Stalinist and Maoist regimes.”
Advertising campaigns have gotten intense and creepy in recent years. In 2014, Chipotle angered farmers and other in the agriculture business with its online video series "Farmed and Dangerous," which pitted a ficitious "Animoil" farm and its powerful public relations agency against a "sustainable" farmer.