Having Sex – The McDonald’s Way


McDonald’s disturbs me. Specifically since coming to Japan, I have noticed a disturbing quality to their ads. The latest one, that keeps popping up on the cable channels I watch regularly is pushing the Happy Meals; which are called Happy Set, in Japan.

English words get used regularly in Japanese TV commercials, since they are very cool and trendy. Often the words get pronounced in an odd fashion, to make them more understandable to Japanese people. A common example is the word ‘hot’ which is usually ‘hotto’, with both Os being long vowels and the consonant T being extended a little. Another is ‘new’ which comes out like ‘nyuu’. Most of these changes follow certain patterns, making them easy to follow with moderately small amounts of study.

McDonald’s recent campaign starts with a chorus of kids voices yelling ‘Happy Set’ and meanders into mostly senseless sound bites pushing the meals: ‘Is that a toy?’, ‘Don’t you know?’, ‘No way!’, …

So, why am I disturbed? Because the initial blaring words, sound almost like ‘Having Sex!’ Since the commercial has come up so many times, I was able to verify that it’s not just some facet of my mental state creating the illusion. Further, the normal Japanese pronunciation would be roughly like the English words, “Hop pea set tow”, without normal pauses between words. Clearly the words in the ad are far from the correct sounds in English or Japanese. Also, the announcer says, “Happy Set”, toward the end of the commercial and it sounds normal (in Japanese-English). Just what agenda do they have?


2 Responses to “Having Sex – The McDonald’s Way”

  1. sunkissd1 Says:

    Interesting observation. Have you talked about this with anyone there? If so, do they find it offensive also?

    Advertising here often leaves me wondering what exactly is being advertised and what messages our kids are actually walking away with. I also don’t understand our whole censorship with regard to the tv shows. Certain offensive words or inappropriate material are commonly used and during the earlier part of prime time…the 8:00pm range when young kids are still typically watching tv. There is an inconsistency as to which vocabulary is offensive and which is not. That also applies to the whole rating system on shows.

    To further add fuel to the fire, the so called “Family Channel” gives the misimpression that the channel is targeted to families and is family friendly. There was one show in particular I thought Squid and I could enjoy together. The storyline was promoted as a summer beach community, the locals as well as the visiting summer-ers, but the actual show dealt with drug use & abuse, drug dealing, promiscuity, infidelity, business fraud, unplanned pregnancy, careless and reckless drinking, drunk driving, etc. EXACTLY what I want my child and other young impressionables watching…not hardly.

  2. びっくり Says:

    Yeah, I might ask a few people if they noticed, but they’ll probably look at me all strange. I’ve definitely noticed that prime time has gotten pretty trashy. For popular movies it seems that the F-word and taking the Lord’s name in vain are common fare. I am wondering if it’s possible to watch a movie without them anymore.

    Swearing, until very recently, has been rare in Japan. One guy did a survey of what people would say if they returned from a hard day at work by train, and found their bike had been stolen from the station. The most common response was, “Shinjirarenai!” – which is, “I can’t believe it!” Some people insist swearing shows emotion, but I’m guessing you could listen to the Japanese person’s voice and understand his emotion.

    Unfortunately, most Americans are so mired in profanity that we can’t even recognize it.

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