Freelance writer David Sikorski and photographer Kristina Bakrevski created a series of mock engagement photos showing Sikorski and the object of his affection, a burrito, which went viral around a month ago following coverage in BuzzFeed. Then, in early August, McDonald’s rolled out a social campaign that used images suspiciously similar to Sikorski and Bakrevski’s project, only with a double cheeseburger swapped in for the burrito. McDonald’s photos copied the style of the originals, utilizing strikingly similar poses and wardrobe choices. The chain recently deleted all of the offending images, but not before the story got out. Sikorski was made aware of the campaign when a friend noticed a sponsored tweet in her feed.
“My reaction was shock, disbelief,” Bakrevski told Adweek. “I was mad, even though a lot of friends told me the imitation was a form of flattery.”
“The photos used by McDonald’s are not a spin-off or a take on it,” Sikorski explained to the publication, “but an exact duplicate from the wardrobe, the positions and the concept. Neither myself, my photographer or the licensing company were approached for permission.” He added that he would like the company to acknowledge that the campaign is based on the duo’s work and if they would like to pay for the concept, “that’d be great.”
A McDonald’s rep issued this apology through Adweek: “This shouldn’t have happened and, with our agency partner, we’re working to find out how it did. We’re reaching out to David Sikorski and Kristina Bakrevski. We apologize to them, their fans and ours.”
It is unclear if Sikorski and Bakrevski have since heard from the company. We’ve included a couple of images from the campaign, and from the original project, for comparison and you can head over to Adweek’s coverage to see more.