McDonald's Airs Gay Commercial in France

By L.K. Regan

McDonald's, the international fast food empire, has a new ad campaign running in France. It features a gay teen and his father—who apparently does not know the son is gay—sharing a meal. We've included the ad below, and are wondering—what do you think of it?

The 40-second spot shows a teenage boy seated at a table, looking at his class photo as his father is at the counter getting their meal. The son's phone rings, and he has a brief, flirtatious conversation with someone he mentions is in the photo. Then, as the father returns, he says, "My dad's coming; I have to hang up." The father sits down and asks to look at the class photo; his comments reveal that the class is all boys, and that he has no idea his son is gay.

Here is the ad, in French with English subtitles:

The spot, titled "Come As You Are," suggests that McDonald's is a gay-friendly environment (making one wonder—who had suggested that it wasn't?). But Nathalie Legarlantezec, McDonald's Brand Director in France, is framing the ad as a neutral reflection of French society. “We wanted to show society the way it is today, without judging," she said. "There’s obviously no problem with homosexuality in France today.”

That last comment is not entirely supported by facts—for instance, in 2007, the group SOS homophobie reported more than 1300 hate crimes in France. But overall, France has moved faster on gay rights than the U.S., with a 2003 hate crimes law covering anti-gay violence and discrimination. The U.S passed a hate crimes law protecting LGBTs only late last year. France has also had civil unions since 1999, while of course the U.S. is moving more slowly—state-by-state, if at all.

So, when will we see gay-friendly advertising from major corporations at the national level here? And would McDonald's ever choose to run such a commercial in their home country? We would love to see that ad!