McDonald’s has a new campaign that a group of artists say co-opts their work without permission. A documentary-style video in the Netherlands highlights “the Vibe of Bushwick NY,” and the problem is that said video features the work of street artists who say they never consented to its use in the ad (which happens to be for a product called the New York Bagel Supreme). Six Brooklyn street artists — Don Rimx, Beau Stanton, Virus, NDA, Atomik, and Himbad — have sent McDonald’s a letter, promising to sue if the chain doesn’t pull the campaign.
The chain did legitimately (if surprisingly) partner with the Bushwick Collective, a set of Brooklyn street artists, for the ads. It flew a half-dozen of them to Holland to do bagel-y murals, but a film crew also shot footage of their work in the neighborhood of Bushwick for additional ads:
However, McDonald’s didn’t approach every artist whose work appears in the video. “I’m not interested in doing free work for a giant, multi-national corporation,” NDA tells the Daily Beast. “If you’re going to use our work to bolster your street cred, you should at least ask for permission.”
McDonald’s hasn’t issued any sort of statement yet, but the videos have been pulled off the internet. The Daily Beast also notes that the artists have a beef with how McDonald’s portrays their neighborhood as poor and “relatively untouched by gentrification.” Even if that were true, they argue, then McDonald’s, which has multiple locations in the area, is partly responsible for perpetuating the food-desert problem.
This is also the second time McDonald’s has faced a lawsuit for using a street artist’s work without permission. Last time, an “edgy” redesign of a London store that featured what seemed to be a pretty blatant Dash Snow ripoff prompted a lawsuit by his estate.