Joke All You Want, McDonald’s TV is Launching

Photo: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times

McDonald’s is rolling out the McDonald’s Channel, a broadcast station, over the next few months across Central and Southern California, ultimately landing in 800 restaurants and reaching up to 20 million customers each month. Segments will include “The McDonald’s Achievers” profiling student athletes, and “Mighty Moms” focused on mothers with sports careers (?), as well as coverage of the company’s philanthropic efforts.

FishbowlNY has some show suggestions, including one we would actually watch, “Guess What? I’m Stupid” that chronicles the nutritional epiphanies of McDonald’s enthusiasts. Which brings us to a most amazing thing — that love/hate/toxic relationship that we have with McDonald’s. No matter how many different ways we’re warned, “If you eat this it will kill you,” people keep coming back for more. There was even a movie that showed that very thing happening to a human being. Yet the most packed dining area in every food court in every mall and every airport is beneath some golden arches.

How many different brands do you know that can suffer the slings and arrows McDonald’s has and then still announce an in-store TV channel that will now pump more of its stuff directly into your brain? And people will go and eat fries and watch TV and McDonald’s will still make money and people will still talk crap about them.

TIME notes, “The channel should be an effective way to present a positive, controlled brand image, particularly after McDonald’s has taken hits by its portrayal in Fast Food Nation and Super Size Me.”

More than that, McDonald’s has built such a strong brand that no matter the hits, it keeps on finding favor with diners around the globe. And it’s cultivating favor every day with young people (to the dismay of many), who go on to be loyal customers for years. Lots of other outlets cracked wise about the channel. Are people still going to watch? Yes. Because they’re still going to McD’s. Is it the Big Mac special sauce? The weird smell of the food mixed with the odor of the dirty mop water that they “clean” the restaurant floors with? What is it that triggers that thing in us that sucks us in?

It could be that there are just some things that are impervious to negative buzz. Adam Sandler. Marlboros and PBR. Skechers. They’ve managed to carve out a cultural place that coats their reputations in a layer of teflon.