The TV and social media campaign, 'Signs', aims to highlight the brand's community connections and kicked off on Sunday during the NFL and the Golden Globe Awards.
In a live pole for Marketing, so far 59% of readers think the campaign is "crass" and 21% think it is "marketing genius". What do you think? Click here to have your say.
Created by Leo Burnett, the tear-jerking ad shows a range of McDonald's signs over the years emblazoned with community messages including "thank you veterans", "God protect the USA" and "we remember 9/11". It is supported by a social media push including a Tumblr profile.
Designed to create emotional appeal, the ad is set to a tune sang by a children's choir. Consumers can click on the Tumblr page to discover the "story" behind each sign.
"Since the first McDonald's signs went up, local owners have been using them to say a lot more than just Billions Served," the brand said on the site.
"Over the years, in good times and in bad, you might have noticed the sign at your local McDonald's bearing a message from the heart. Whatever the message, there’s a story behind every one that captures a moment in time and reflects the lives of the community it serves."
A spokeswoman for the brand said McDonald's was "happy" consumers had engaged with the campaign as it fit with its strategy.
"The powerful Signs commercial has sparked commentary from consumers, and we’re happy to see that. It is part of our campaign to listen more and have a deeper conversation with our customers, and this ad is achieving that.
"We’ve seen some strong praise and some negative comments. We expect that, and we welcome it. We’ll continue to challenge ourselves to push boundaries in connecting with our customers."
Whilst some consumers have celebrated the ads as "genius", others have lashed out at the ad as a cynical ploy, accusing the brand of being "vulgar", "crass" and "delusional".