Perhaps inevitably, not everyone is a fan of McDonald’s new “Pay With Lovin’” campaign, wherein randomly chosen customers can buy their meals not with money, but instead by doing … something … at the behest of a chipper Mickey D’s employee.
The idea was first announced this past Sunday, via that ad that probably made someone at your Super Bowl party cry a little, which admittedly does make this whole thing seem very sweet:
In practice, though, it’s drawn the ire of some. The Wall Street Journal’s Kate Bachelder writes that she just wanted to drop in for some breakfast at the McDonald’s in Washington, D.C.’s Union Station. When she went to pay, though, she was told she’d been chosen to take part in the promotion. It did not go well:
If the “Pay with Lovin’ ” scenario looks touching on television, it is less so in real life. A crew member produced a heart-shaped pencil box stuffed with slips of paper, and instructed me to pick one. My fellow customers seemed to look on with pity as I drew my fate: “Ask someone to dance.” I stood there for a mortified second or two, and then the cashier mercifully suggested that we all dance together. Not wanting to be a spoilsport, I forced a smile and “raised the roof” a couple of times, as employees tried to lure cringing customers into forming some kind of conga line, asking them when they’d last been asked to dance.
The public embarrassment ended soon enough, and I slunk away with my free breakfast, thinking: Now there’s an idea that never should have left the conference room.
Asking people to pay with lovin’ before they’ve even gotten their morning coffee just seems cruel, really.
Things are even darker over on Reddit — aren’t they always? — where another potential customer offers this tale of a recent Mickey D’s trip. When told they could simply pay by calling mom and telling her, “I love you,” the customer, who claims to have a history of depression, realized while talking to mom that this was not going to work out as planned:
She immediately started to freak out (mostly because I’m over 1000 miles away from her and the closest family is about 300 miles away from me) and was pretty scared that I was about to commit suicide. Over the course of the next 15 minuets I was on the phone reassuring her that I indeed wasn’t about to kill myself and make sure that she wasn’t on the next plane to arrive and come to visit.
It seems like maybe it would be better to just pay the $8 or whatever for the meal? These examples seem more awkward than anything else, but the continued backfire potential seems very high for this entire promotion, which doesn’t end for another ten days. Maybe just hold off on making any McNugget runs until it’s over.