Thursday, July 22, 2010

Welcome Readers from McDonalds and Clear Channel (UPDATE)

Thanks to the magic of sitemeter, I can see the hits coming from McDonalds, the fast food monolith that is styling itself as local but won't provide any information about where its food comes from, and clear channel, the media corporation from my home state of Texas, that is often accused of homogenizing radio and putting billboards running janky ads everywhere (the McDonald's ads are on their signs, or at least the one I photographed in downtown Seattle was).

Anyway, if you're reading this and you work for one of those companies, I'd like to say that we in Seattle don't appreciate your work in general, and especially this ad campaign. I actually have two engineering degrees from Texas A&M, where the business school is named after Lowry Mays, one of the founders of clear channel, and I'd like to take this chance to say that I'm ashamed to have any affiliation with his legacy. I've since made my way to Seattle, obviously, and been introduced to writers like Horkheimer and Adorno, who take the commercialization of radio very seriously (and they were writing about the Culture Industry around WWII). I wonder what they would have to say about the state of radio today? They didn't even like jazz so they would abhor garbage like this.

I'd like to think they would listen to KEXP, even though they are devoted to classical music.

Why is this relevant to the lot you may ask? Companies like these are part of the same American business culture that I blame for undertaking projects the proposed development at 500 E. Pine that would have resulted in an overpriced and bland project. They see only in dollars and have no concern for the landscape they are creating. The furthest you can get from a McDonalds in America is 107 miles; I'm not sure if it's even possible to get out of range of clear channel radio or billboards.


It looks like Omnicon Group might be the marketing agency behind these ads: there was a hit from their Seattle office before all the clear channel and McDonalds hits came though. I'm going to call and/or email them right now. Feel free to do the same.

According to the interwebs, Hornall Anderson Design Works, a local ad firm, was acquired by Omnicon in 2004. I just sent this message to the creative and production directors to see if they were indeed the creators of the billboards.

Hello Ladies,

I am a Seattle resident and a PhD student at the University of Washington interested in consumer culture and the built environment and was wondering if Hornall Anderson was responsible for the McDonald's billboards that imply that the food is produced locally? If so, I can think of a few other questions I'd like to ask, but I will wait on your response.

I participate in a bit of neighborhood arts/activism on Capitol Hill via the website People's Parking Lot (, and noticed a hit from Omnicon Group in Seattle, which I believe HADW is a part of; that's why I am contacting you.

Thanks in advance for your time,

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