CHICKEN FOR DAYS



Liner notes on Chicken Forever while eating a competitor’s sandwich*


Chicken Forever was an online marketing offensive launched by McDonald’s France in spring 2013 to highlight their poultry products, mainstays of the restaurant chain since the McChicken was first introduced in 1980. The sandwich underwent various permutations in domestic and international franchises until the introduction of the “Chicken Mythic” line in Western Europe and North Africa sometime after the turn of the millennium.

The Chicken Forever campaign included the Chicken Mythic, the Chicken Mythic Bacon, the (nouveau) Chicken Mythic Tex Mex, (in which “Mythic” always modifies “Chicken,” and not “Bacon” or “Tex Mex,” respectively) and the (nouveau) McWrap Poulet Poivre (Pepper Chicken), all for a limited time. Promotional materials feature the sandwiches suspended against a matte black background; to their left, the text “Chicken Forever” in mirrored three-dimensional golden script, forever staring, Narcissus-like, at its own reflection.

At the heart of the campaign was a McDonald’s-produced music video featuring illustrated lyrics encouraging passionate lovers of chicken that they’re not alone, as if there were any question. The song consists of vocals by at least three performers, a synth theme, steady base and hi-hat, sound effects, and a chorus with the descending refrain of simply “chicken forever.”

Characterized by pan-chicken optimism in the spirit of the McDonald’s international “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign (in France, “Venez comme vous êtes” or “come as you are,” late November 2008-present), the song encourages chicken lovers – the sort of people who hide chicken under their sheets at night – to come out of the shadows and to McDonald’s. The anthem’s tacit bleat is to accept Chicken Mythic as the bigger category: that all people who love chicken are Chicken Mythic lovers but not the other way around. This escalates to the point at the end of the second verse where chicken from McDonald’s replaces human relationships altogether (“Your only love story is with the nuggets”).

Although it gained some local notoriety on the web, at press time Chicken Forever was the subject of no serious journalism in the music, marketing, or food industries. There is not a jingle category at the Grammy’s, the closest at the 54th Awards being the “Best Song Written for Visual Media” category in which “Visual Media” includes motion picture and television, a field against which Chicken Forever probably didn’t stand even one damn chance.

(With respect to secondary histories, there is a Grammy category for Best Album Notes, an award that has been presented annually since 1963. No woman has ever won. In the past decade only three women have been nominated for Best Album Notes, two of them for their work on albums primarily featuring a female artist (Nina Simone and Janis Joplin). Wider stats on women in music/chicken journalism were not immediately available. But serious talk on serious music remains largely a man’s game, as it has done since the heyday of the note in the late 1960s-early 1970s. What followed those years is what one commentator calls “retro pastiche”: to wit, liner notes in the last three decades have been largely the domain of Best-Ofs and compilation albums, and probably of the same lazy curation impulse that gave rise to Chicken Forever).

Chicken proved less forever than Texas or diamonds when Chicken Forever and the eponymous video vanished from McDonald’s-managed domains without explanation shortly after premiere. We can construe that Chicken Forever’s durée limitée’d sometime in April 2013, leaving the public hungry for answers, and chicken.

Chicken Forever last appeared on the McDonald’s France Facebook fan page on April 2, 2013. Blogs continued to feature la chanson as late as April 19, at which point platform support for Chicken Forever disappeared. The McDonald’s France YouTube channel, which trades mostly in airy Happy Meal spots and soft corporate backslapping, also removed all traces of Chicken Forever. All products, including the McWrap Poulet Poivre and the (still-nouveau!) Chicken Mythic Tex Mex, remain listed at mcdonalds.fr divorced from the familial “Forever” in which they were introduced. And talking about retro pastiche: all persisting links to Chicken Forever from the mcdonalds.fr domain now redirect to the nouveau (nouveau!) Grand Chicago Classic, whose simultaneous claims to “nouveau” and “classic” go unexplained.

In the interest of disclosure, although there was a Francophone on hand I did not consult them for these translations because of course I didn’t. Also, I never eat at McDonald’s not counting that time we needed some fries for the ride home.

 

 

 

*Blue Ribbon chicken sandwich. Crispy breast with shredded lettuce, tomato, pickled cucumbers & Blue Ribbon Special Sauce. It was okay.

 



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