In 2003 McDonald’s held a contest among 14 international ad agencies to see who could produce the best jingle for the fast food chain. The winner turned out to be a small firm in Germany that came up with a catchy tune along with the tagline “ich liebe es,” which translates to “I’m lovin’ it.” With this guaranteed hit on their hands, McDonald’s developed a billion-dollar marketing campaign to unveil the slogan, which included a version of “I’m Lovin’ It” performed by Justin Timberlake and produced by Pharrell Williams. The song also featured a verse from the hip hop group Clipse, a duo of brothers that includes rapper Pusha T.
Timberlake and Williams made a lot of money from their deal with McDonald’s, with the former reportedly earning $6 million for singing on “I’m Lovin’ It.” Pusha T and his brother, on the other hand, made far less since they had only recently broken into the music industry. “It was like half a million or a million dollars for me and my brother — but that’s peanuts for as long as that’s been running,” said Pusha T. In the years since then, the Virginia Beach-born rapper has released multiple bestselling, critically acclaimed albums while also working as an executive for the record company GOOD Music. But even as Pusha T’s fame rose to stratospheric heights, his contributions to “I’m Lovin’ It” stood out as a warning about losing control over the rewards of his work. ”I did it at a very young age at a very young time in my career where I wasn’t asking for as much money and ownership,” said Pusha T. “It’s something that’s always dug at me later in life.”
So when Arby’s approached the rapper about composing a diss track against McDonald’s, Pusha T was only too happy to oblige (for the right price, of course). In a promotion for Arby’s new spicy fish sandwich, he delivers a litany of insults against the Filet-O-Fish sandwich: “You should be disgusted. How dare you sell a square fish asking us to trust it. A half slice of cheese, Mickey D’s on a budget?” The video for this incendiary track currently has more than 4.5 million views on Pusha T’s twitter page, sparking an inferno of social media discussion where thousands of users have similarly slandered the Filet-O-Fish. So while McDonald’s may have benefited from the glow of Pusha T’s rising star twenty years ago, the company ultimately got scorched by the flames of his long-burning anger.
- Why did Pusha T record a diss track against the Filet-O-Fish sandwich?
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of hiring celebrities like Pusha T for promotional purposes?
Sources: Marc Hogan, “The Contentious Tale of the McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ Jingle,” Pitchfork, July 14, 2016; Jason Newman, “Pusha T’s New Diss Track Is an Arby’s Ad. Here’s Why He’s Laughing All the Way to the Bank,” Rolling Stone, March 21, 2022. Photo by Ben Schumin.