McDonald’s Chicken Policies Are a Shameless Bacchanalia in This Lush, Livid Animal Rights PSA

Don't Panic launches campaign for The Humane League

The slickly produced video reveals a bunch of vaguely sinister Easter eggs. The Humane League
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

The walls are still standing at this palatial home, but the high-rent place is fully trashed, with a golf cart half submerged in the pool, bottles of booze toppled on the floors and bodies strewn around every room.

Are these folks dead? Comatose? And what kind of ill-fated hootenanny (or bloodless mass murder) just happened here?

Looking a little closer at this slickly produced, vaguely sinister video reveals a bunch of Easter eggs, including french fries and fast-food wrappers littering nearly every scene, a “Steve Westerbrook” nameplate on a desk, a bathtub full of feathers, a melting ice sculpture of a chicken and yellow pool noodles in the shape of an “M.”

And then there’s the constant voiceover, a stream of angry voicemails that make references like, “I’m not lovin’ it,” and ask, “How do you sleep at night?” Some rant: “I can’t believe I didn’t know you’re such a clown.” Others accuse: “What you’re doing is an act of torture. It’s torture, OK?”

The 90-second film, from London-based agency Don’t Panic, provides the context with its closing lines: “The party’s over. McDonald’s have (sic) been profiting from extreme chicken suffering. Make them change their ways.”

It’s the latest attack in an ongoing battle against McDonald’s by The Humane League, an international nonprofit that claims the brand is “ghosting” its responsibility to animal welfare. The organization has called on McDonald’s to comply with upgraded standards “to make concrete, meaningful changes to chicken welfare.” More than 150 companies around the world, including Sonic, Burger King, Denny’s and Subway, have already endorsed the guidelines.

“What we’re asking for is perfectly reasonable and an essential part of McDonald’s ethical responsibilities,” said Taylor Ford, director of campaigns at The Humane League. “The commitment we are asking McDonald’s to sign simply addresses the very worst suffering endured by chickens.”

McDonald’s, for its part, has defended its supply chain and announced the formation of a stakeholder group last year to “provide deep expertise, diverse perspectives and recommendations for evolving our chicken welfare and sustainability strategy,” according to a brand statement.

The Humane League, which has staged public protests at McDonald’s corporate offices in Chicago and outside restaurants and appealed to shareholders ahead of the recent annual meeting, isn’t convinced, this week debuting what it calls “a global brand-jacking that brings their commitment phobia to light.”

Dubbed #McGhoster, complete with Wikipedia page and Urban Dictionary entry, the group is asking consumers to mobilize, “apply pressure” and sign a petition demanding that McDonald’s change its ways. There’s no boycott as part of the effort. (The online petition, at, has just north of 18,300 signatures.)

The campaign, with social posts and out-of-home ads, revolves around the hero video, with its bacchanalian theme. Shot in Thailand in a single day, it’s the first work for The Humane League from Don’t Panic, known for its decorated PSAs for Oxfam, Save the Children and Greenpeace.

“What we want, passionately, is for McDonald’s to improve the treatment of the chickens in their supply chain,” said Rick Dodds, creative partner at the agency. “McDonald’s shouldn’t be serving their nuggets with an unhealthy dollop of guilt on the side.”

As for those not-so-hidden references in the minimovie: Search the name Steve Westerbrook and Google will ask, “Did you mean Steve Easterbrook?” That’s McDonald’s current CEO. Other gags include the golden arches scattered around the set, a B1G M4C license plate and a defaced painting of a chicken.


Campaign: #McGhoster
Film Title: The Party’s Over

Client: The Humane League
Head of Campaigns:P ruElliott
Vice President, Communications: Jennifer Barckley
Director of Campaigns: Taylor Ford
Communications Manager: Hannah Yates

Creative Agency: Don’t Panic
Founding Partners: Joe Wade + Mark Whiteway
Client Services Partner: Jane Marshall
Creative Partner: Rick Dodds
Senior Creatives: George McCallum + Saxony Goodwin
Creatives: Alice Dowdall + Madeline Charles
Head of Strategy & Engagement: Ellie Moore
Engagement Strategist: Florence Auckland
Senior Project Manager: Chloe Cross
Producer & Project Manager: Jennifer Clare Houlihan
Head of Artwork: Paul Howard
Graphic Designers: Ellen Crowther + Lucy Richardson

Production Company: Object & Animal
Directors: Matias Rygh + Mathias Eriksen
Executive Producers: Morgan Clement + Dom Thomas
Producer: Alex Chamberlain
DOP: Andreas Bjørseth
Production Service: Living Films
Location: Thailand
Edit House: The Quarry
Editor: Owen Oppenheimer
Colourist: Julien Alary

Post-Production Company: Electric Theatre Collective
Producer: Antonia Vlasto
2nd OP: Taran Spear

Sound Studio: 750 MPH
Producer: Chloe Sitton
Sound Designer: Sam Robson and Neil Johnson

Music: Katy Jarzebowski

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@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.