McDonald’s did not pay for Brad Downey’s mural

Brad Downey - Mc Donalds mural, 2009, Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
Brad Downey – I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

Who is Brad Downey?

Brad Downey has consolidated a reputation for himself in the street art community as an artist who has a flair for navigating gray areas in society. His work in public is an expert combination of culture and sensationalism, which are both presented and partnered with media-friendly and pop culture acceptable imagery.

Brad Downey - Mc Donalds mural, 2009, Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
Brad Downey – I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

I’m Lovin It mural

Case in point, Brad Downey’s McDonald’s mural proves that art is made up of more than the audience’s understanding of the subject or object included in the art; it is an idea that lives, grows and mutates in the audience’s imagination.

As a result of his unique perspective on art, the McDonald’s mural received a lot of attention partly because it did not contain any humoristic slogans or any disruption by rats, as is common with other well-known street artists.

The piece was also not intended to be a McDonald’s advertisement; this commercial mural was created ironically and was anticipated to serve as a radical and controversial piece for the urban art rebel.

Brad Downey - Mc Donalds mural, 2009, Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
Brad Downey – I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

Why was this mural created?

Downey created the McDonald mural when the University of Leuphana in Lüneburg, Germany (where the mural was created) was undergoing a rebranding process. The university’s branding strategy was intended to raise school fees, which made the students unhappy. In response to the rebranding, Downey created the mural to address the issue.

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In an interview, Downey commented1:

This work has nothing really to do with McD. I just wanted to insert “random logo with power.” It could have been any well know logo. I feel that many of the so called “street artists” do this anyways. They travel the world painting logos. So, I thought I should show up and just paint any logo.

Brad Downey - Mc Donalds mural, 2009, Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
Brad Downey – I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

Analysis

Downey selected the Mcdonald’s logo, not because it had anything to do with the worldwide chain of restaurants but because he wanted a logo that evoked power. According to Downey, any logo would have served the purpose, but Mcdonald’s seemed to be a great fit. Downey’s mural is the perfect example of how street art can help manipulate the reality of the situation to pass across a message and generate interest.

By using the well-known brand, audiences were forced to look beneath the surface to really get the message in the work. The Mcdonald’s piece was well received by the student body of the university. It even inspired some of the students to address the issue through various mediums such as film.

Brad Downey - Mc Donalds mural, 2009, Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
Brad Downey – I’m Lovin It, 2009, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany

All images by Brad Downey unless otherwise noted.

More street art

Footnotes

  1. http://blog.ekosystem.org/2009/10/brad-downey-tour-de-force/

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