McDonald's may be running out of ideas for how to engage millennials — so much so that the company is resorting to plagiarism. Adweek reports that the fast food giant issued an apology yesterday evening to freelance writer David Sikorski and photographer Kristina Bakrevski, who called the company out for ripping off their clever burrito engagement photos in an ad campaign.
"Neither myself, my photographer or the licensing company were approached for permission."
The pair's photo series is a satirical take on the typical engagement pictures featured on social media and depicts Sikorski's love affair with a burrito. The images went viral last month when Buzzfeed picked them up. They feature the writer posed in various scenic locales — a park bench, the Golden Gate Bridge, a grassy meadow — romancing the burrito. Yet the images bare an uncanny resemblance to a series of ads release by McDonald's this month. The ads feature models in similar poses promoting the $2.50 double cheeseburger combo deal.
McDonald’s Apologizes After Couple Says Ad Campaign Ripped Off Their Viral Engagement Photos http://t.co/ZpQW4CEoxc— consumerist (@consumerist) August 21, 2015
Siroski and Bakrevski say they were alerted to the McDonald's campaign by a friend who spotted the images on her Twitter timeline. "My reaction was shock, disbelief," Bakrevski says. "I was mad, even though a lot of friends told me the imitation was a form of flattery." The duo immediately began tweeting and calling McDonald's on Thursday. The images are an "exact duplicate from the wardrobe, the positions and the concept," says Sikorski. "Neither myself, my photographer, or the licensing company were approached for permission."
In a statement to Adweek, a McDonald's representative acknowledge the similarities between the two sets of photos. "This shouldn't have happened and, with our agency partner, we're working to find out how it did. We're reaching out to David Sikorski and Kristina Bakrevski. We apologize to them, their fans, and ours." The ads have been removed from Twitter, though Sikorski tells Business Insider he's contacted a lawyer and is considering taking legal action against the chain.
This isn't the first time a major company has been accused of licensing infringement. In June, a New York-based muralist filed a $750,000 lawsuit against Starbucks claiming the chain stole her artwork for its mini-Frappuccino campaign. Burger King was also busted by comedian Billy Eichner for using parts of his act in a commercial.