Instagram users have a new archenemy: McDonald’s sponsored ads.

Although the ads receive more likes than they do hateful words, the comments section is resoundingly negative. Bloated with phrases like: “I hate you macdonalds! Get off my feed”, “If I wanted to see mcdonalds ads I would have liked their page…” and “McDonald’s gives you herpes”, the comments section demonstrates anything but nostalgia for the long-standing brand.

In fact (and comically), Instagram users dislike McDonald’s so much that they rejoice when sponsored ads that are not McDonald’s appear. Case in point: when a sponsored ad for the upcoming film St. Vincent appeared, one Instagramer proclaimed: “Finally! Not a McDonalds Ad!!”

So why the backlash?

It likely has something to do with relevance. Or, in this case a lack thereof.

With over 90% of the 150 million people on Instagram under the age of 35, you could say that the user base is comprised almost solely of millennials. And, as the most heavily advertised-to generation to date, millennials are acutely aware of when they’re being advertised to or—perhaps more accurately—being lied to. As a result of this awareness, millennials tend to value transparency in the brands they buy into (think Cards Against Humanity with its tagline: “a party game for horrible people)”.

Unfortunately, McDonald’s past indiscretions paired with their current supplier stories campaign, which seeks to exploit the farm-to-table angle but falls short when it comes to believability, makes the brand come off as being anything but transparent. Also, featuring photos of slim, attractive cheerleaders in their sponsored ads doesn’t help their case.

What can brands learn from McDonald’s Instagram blunders?

At Interact, we believe that relevance is of the utmost importance when it comes to communicating with today’s consumer—especially with millennials.

To be relevant on Instagram, ask yourself these three questions:

·      Is my content useful/funny/relatable to my audience?
·      Does my content align with my audience’s perception of my brand?
·      Is my content genuine/authentic/original or does it feel forced/gimmicky?

If your answer to any of these questions is “no”, you’d be wise to think twice before posting.


Interact on Shelf is a design firm that works exclusively with grocery brands.

What makes us different is that we study consumer culture, design trends, industry innovation and many other dynamics that shape opportunities for your brand in order to create iconic work that’s designed to sell in a retail environment.

If you think you could benefit from partnering with a young, energetic bunch like us, you know what to do.  Contact us!

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