Fisher of Men

You’ve all probably see the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish commercial. The delightfully weird jingle in the spot is on everyone’s lips —but what’s really interesting are the commercial’s obvious religious overtones. At a time when corporate America shys away from religious imagery McDonald’s is doing just the opposite.

The fish has been used to represent Christianity since the earliest days of the faith —and in the commercial the mechanical fish, like Jesus, is delivering a message. That the fish is mounted on wood -in the way Jesus is depicted on a crucifix- may be heavy-handed but is a reference to the most ubiquitous and powerful image in Christendom.

And those men in the commercial? The burly guy bopping his head is clearly a stand in for the apostle Peter, who was the among the first to encounter Jesus after his resurrection (Luke 24:34). Peter is thought to be the most impulsive and expressive of the apostles, so his behavior in the the scene is true to form. The guy with the drill? Look at the incredulous expression of disbelief on his face. He could be none other than Thomas who doubted that Jesus had risen from the tomb (John 20:25).

From a marketing standpoint, it’s no mistake that this commercial is running during Lent, a time that many Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays. What’s surprising is that McDonald’s would employ such a clear Christian allegory in its advertising —especially during the most significant season on the liturgical calender. Discuss among yourselves.

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12 responses to “Fisher of Men

  1. Oh, come on Rob.. next thing you’ll say is that Christmas is religious because ‘Christ’ is in the.. oh, wait.. never mind.

  2. I’m apparently the only person who has not seen this commercial or heard its jingle (thank you DVR). After reading this, I’m twice as glad that I’ve avoided it. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. Woah Rob! You’re totally right, and all these weeks Paul and I were thinking they ripped us off!

  4. Continuing the Lenten connection, the McD filet o’ fish was created in Cincinnati as a way to attract Catholics to a struggling McDonalds during Lent. (Cincy was — and to some extent still is — an overwhelmingly Catholic town.)

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2007-02-20-fish2-usat_x.htm

  5. You from Cincy? I believe I’m now supposed to ask how you take your chili?

  6. Does this make a bad Catholic for wanting to my foot through the screen when the commercial comes on (or take a drill to my temple when I can’t get the jingle out of my head).

  7. Maybe now that you understand the commercial is telling the story of Jesus it will not seem so offensive.

  8. You’ve truly got a lot more time on your hands than I – but thanks for getting that song in my head again. UGH!

  9. Yeah, well when I stop having time to explain important things like this then I’ll know I’m finished…

  10. Hoorah for capitalism’s polished brass ones.

    Someone oughta suggest that they advertise on EWTN!

  11. I kind of like the jingle because the fish (correctly) uses the subjunctive case, which is quite rare these days.

  12. Belatedly…

    I believe I’m now supposed to ask how you take your chili?

    Three way from Skyline. With a cheese coney — mustard, no onions — on the side.

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