It’s not everyday that we see noteworthy television advertisements. Some ads, like Colt 45’s series of commercials a few years ago, grabbed our attention for all the wrong reasons. Recently, fast food giant McDonald’s released a heart-tugging commercial featuring a man in his mid to late 20s, clad in office attire, having breakfast with his older brother.
The younger man ordered pancakes for the two of them (he footed the bill). Midway through the 45-second ad, it was revealed that the older brother actually has Down syndrome (one website says it is bad to say they are “afflicted with” or are “suffering” from that condition). The two eventually had this conversation:
Older brother (OB): Kumusta crush mo?
Younger brother (YB): Okay lang. Kuya, nag-smile na siya sa akin!
OB: Smile ka din! (smiles)
YB: Ganito? (smiles too)
OB: Hindi. Kaunti lang…
YB: Ganyan? (smiles again)
OB: (Gives a thumbs up)
Let me enumerate the reasons why this particular ad “clicked” among Filipinos:
1. The younger brother is a certified eye candy. The guy looks familiar. He must have appeared in other ads before.
2. The situation is very familiar for most of us. Isn’t it that we really enjoy talking about our crush(es), especially out interactions with them, to those close to us?
3. “Kuya” is stressing to us the importance of not appearing too happy especially when your crush is just around the corner. “Wag masyadong ngiting tagumpay,” as some quip.
4. Of course, the biggest star in the ad is “Kuya” and everything else his character represents. The recent midterm elections is noteworthy for many things, but one should never lose sight of the fact that in that election cycle, the Commission on Elections together with its partner agencies implemented a concerted effort to help persons with disabilities (PWDs) register and vote.
As a result, a reexamination of how our society regard PWDs has been going on. Let’s now examine the McDo ad against that background. For one, when was the last time that a PWD appeared in a TV commercial? The advertisement shows that PWDs are totally capable of engaging in casual conversations just like anyone else.
As an American PWD rights advocate said: “Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition that doesn’t interfere with a person’s ability to lead a happy, satisfying and productive life, and to contribute to their family and community.”