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McDonald's Japan

McDonald’s feels the wrath of Japanese social media users after getting bow wrong in ad


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

April 14, 2016 | 2 min read

McDonald’s has come under fire from Japanese social media users after an ad was deemed to show a McDonald’s staff member bow in the Korean style, not the Japanese style.

The advert depicts a woman buying a coffee at McDonald’s only to see her answers returned by the staff member in a whisper. The reveal is that the considerate staff member is being quiet because the woman has a sleeping baby strapped to her check.

Despite the well-meaning, if not saccharine storyline of the ad, a considerable amount of Japanese social media users have criticised the ad for not showing the right bow.

The angles of the elbows in the ad are more akin to the Korean style, whereas the Japanese style is more close to the body.

McDonald's has disabled comments on the YouTube video. Cited in the Times, Takashi Hasegawa, a spokesman for McDonald’s, said: “When we made the commercial, we were not thinking about whether the bow was in the Korean style. It is just an ordinary scene of the service we provide.”

Social media users have been pretty strong in the criticisms, stating that McDonald’s is now “finished” in Japan. It demonstrates the issues of global brands treading a fine line with cultural nuances. Yet some blog posts and other social media users have defended McDonald’s and are calling the response from the Japanese social media “racist”.

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