In this French McDonald’s ad, a young man has a phone conversation with someone who is clearly a romantic partner. The two reminisce over their days in grade school together, and it is not until the end of the commercial that it is revealed that the protagonist went to an all-boys school. The commercial ends with a title card that reads “venez comme vous etes” or “come as you are.” The ad forces viewers to reflect on the assumptions they make about others; the sex of the person on the other end of the call is intentionally left unknown, and most people (including the man’s father) will assume it is a woman. Simone de Beauvoir writes that “A man never begins by presenting himself as an individual of a certain ex; it goes without saying that he is a man.” Along this vein, I think many people just assume that most men are heterosexual. This ad—unlike many other advertisements in popular media—breaks with traditional assumptions about sexuality. I think the fact that this ad was shown in France and not the US is a testament to the hurdles that still need to be overcome in the states. Assumptions about gender are so ingrained in American culture that McDonald’s thinks it would be bad for business to challenge them.
De Beauvoir, Simone. “The Second Sex: Introduction.” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. Ed. Carole R. McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim. New York: Routledge, 2003. 32-40. Print.