2011-06-17 / Columnists

East End Matters...

Far Rockaway Deserves A Break
Commentary By Miriam Rosenberg

Once again Rockaway has been in the news and not for the beautiful beaches that bring people out here each summer. Councilman James Sanders Jr., last week, called out McDonald’s for an ad the company plastered across 1,000 subway cars in the city. The ad showed someone’s hand supposedly toasting to the words, “To not falling asleep and ending up in Far Rockaway.” And in smaller letters the sign says, “(Unless, of course, you live there.)”

“I can assure the marketing boys over at McDonald’s that most people don’t wind up in the Rockaways by accident,” said Sanders in a press release. “They come for the beauty, serenity and entertainment that our peninsula offers, especially in the hot summer months when our beaches are overrun with visitors from Manhattan who flock to our shores.”

Sanders added that the “Unless You Live There” was “a tacit admission of McDonald’s heartless attack on its Far Rockaway customer base.” He also suggested that by displaying the ad the suits in the front offices of McDonald’s failed to appreciate the many loyal customers that patronize the company’s Far Rockaway restaurant.

“Our intention was to add humor to the situation of falling asleep on the subway, missing a local home stop and waking up at the end of the line,” said McDonald’s spokeswoman Jennifer Nagy in a statement meant to apologize to those who were offended by the ad. Nagy added, “We never meant to disparage Far Rockaway or those who live there.”

OK, it was a sales ploy – but not, as Nagy alludes to, a humorous one. According to the Daily News the newspaper was the first to ask about the ads, which brought the stern retort from Sanders; which then brought the apology.

Now while that should have been the end of it, a June 14 commentary by Tim Nudd on the AdWeek website takes a swipe at Far Rockaway. The article’s lead reads, “Here’s your latest blownout of-proportion ad controversy. McDonald’s has pulled a subway ad in New York City because it allegedly hurt Far Rockaway’s feelings. That distant [my underline] Queens neighborhood – one end of the line for the A train – was called out in the ad’s headline, which read: ‘To not falling asleep and ending up in Far Rockaway. (Unless, of course, you live there.)’ That tacked-on disclaimer wasn’t enough for too-muchtime on-his-hands City Councilman James Sanders.”

First, I wouldn’t call this blown out of proportion. Since I was out of town at the time the incident happened, I had to go over some of the news reports that covered the incident. All the reports mention the text in the poster but, unless a photo accompanied it, not the fact that there is someone’s hand supposedly toasting to the ad’s text. So let’s see, the ad was toasting to not ending up in Far Rockaway, but the “unless you live there” seemed more like a way to keep locals from taking offense to the ad. Well, it didn’t work. The ad didn’t go over here, and I’d bet you this type of ad wouldn’t fly anywhere else in New York City either. As for Sanders having too much time on his hands, he was elected to stand up for us and he did. A toast should actually go to him. By the way, the headline on the commentary was ‘McDonald’s Ad Pulled for (Not Really) Making Fun Of Far Rockaway.’

Now as for Ronald McDonald, Councilman let’s give him a break. Sanders said he wouldn’t let Ronald back on the peninsula unless the face of the company rode the ‘A’ train with him. The mascot for the company wasn’t involved in the boneheaded ad. It is the higher-ups in the company who should take that ride with Sanders across, as the councilman said in his press release, “Jamaica Bay, and go through the Gateway National Recreation Area to meet some of the best people east of the Rockies.” And if I may add, some of the most beautiful water and beaches there are.

As for my still patronizing Far Rockaway’s McDonald’s (one of the two on the peninsula), we have locals who work there and they shouldn’t be held accountable for this, and, besides those caramel frappes are delicious.

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