The Taste of Silence

Analyzing the response to McDonald’s non-ad ad

Ads can drive purchases and entertain. But in many instances, ads are ignored. People deem ads pushy and, sometimes, downright annoying. Recognizing this, McDonald’s crafted an ad campaign featuring actress Mindy Kaling from The Mindy Project that pushes the boundaries of traditional advertising. Not once does the ad mention McDonald’s, though it does mention other big brands Coca-Cola and Google. Crafted by Omnicom agency We Are Unlimited, the ad aims to circumvent problems associated with traditional ads—the lack of authenticity, the in-your-face nature.
We looked at the social response to the ad to assess audience reception. Did the ad strike a positive or negative chord? Did people even understand the ad?

Analyzing the reactions

The ad was released on April 13, 2017. It didn’t generate much conversation, but it seemed to resonate with those who watched the ad. When Kaling, dressed in yellow and filmed against a red backdrop, asked viewers to google “the place where Coke tastes so good,” people did.

On April 17, volume rose to 137 posts when The New York Times published a story on the ad. The next day, volume reached the highest point at 695 posts when people shared the ad and tried to decipher the meaning on social media. The discussion was relatively short-lived. While people appreciated the campaign’s creativity, people discussion trailed off in the days that followed.

How did people feel about the ad?

The ad was well-received, with more than half of the discussion categorized as joy. People found the ad unique. Kaling fans were excited about her appearance.

Disgust made up 17 percent share of voice. Those confused that the commercial was for Coca-Cola were disgusted that Coke would even advertise their products.
Anger was driven by a multitude of factors ranging from dislike of Mindy Kaling to confusion about what the ad means. Sadness had the lowest share of voice, with 6 percent.
When we looked at the reactions to the ad, an overwhelming majority (73 percent share of voice compared with other reactions) of people found the ad brilliant. They appreciated the innovative approach to marketing, calling it groundbreaking.

Eighteen percent found the ad clever or witty, appreciating the sense of humor.

Six percent were confused about what the ad was for, with many confusing the ad for Coca-Cola instead of McDonald’s.

What are ad-watcher’s interests?

Compared to the population discussing McDonald’s overall, the population discussing the Mindy Kaling ad shows strong interest in media, marketing, advertising, and innovation. The McDonald’s population, in comparison, seems to appear to a younger, pop culture oriented crowd. Interests in homework, high school, and college indicate that many students discuss McDonald’s.


Overall, the ad had a hugely positive response. The new approach to advertising resonated with audiences. Looking at the social media conversation helps us uncover why the ad was so successful.

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