To promote a new burger—the New York Bagel Supreme—in the Netherlands, the fast-food giant flew in a half-dozen street artists from the Brooklyn-based mural project Bushwick Collective, and is paying them to paint stylized versions of the sandwich on a series of billboards.
If that weren’t enough, the marketer also commissioned a soundtrack from old-school Newark hip-hop group Artifacts, and singer Denise Weeks—the New York City subway performer who gained some fame through an X Factor appearance. Titled “New York Flavour,” the song is available as a stand-alone, but also interwoven with the campaign, including its own full-blown music video.
A longer, four-minute documentary-style piece promises to capture the “Vibe of Bushwick NY,” and focuses on the murals of the Bushwick Collective—a nonprofit group that’s turned the neighbourhood into a graffiti hot spot by covering exterior building walls with large-scale pieces. Old-timers offer some brief context on the history of graffiti and the city, and the artists’ passion for it genuine—even if the gentrification that’s allowed for the renaissance is a morally complex issue.
Early in the video, a small disclaimer at the top of the screen hints at some of the tensions of the campaign: “All Bushwick [Collective] murals are painted with permission of the owners. McDonald’s loves street art when done legally.” But it’s not until the end, when the content shifts into selling mode, and the campaign anthem kicks in.
The Bushwick Collective seems to be having fun playing with different aesthetic approaches to the burgers. Artifacts rappers El Da Sensei and Tame One lay out some solid verses, and Denise Weeks displays undeniable vocal talent. McDonald’s deserves credit insofar as its shedding light on the city’s culture, and in the most generous reading, capturing some of the melting-pot essence that makes New York what it is.