McDonald’s is Turning Dozens of Its Billboards Into ‘Bee Hotels’

McDonald’s, the prolific fast-food restaurant chain, has long been infamous as one of the world’s biggest polluters and garbage producers ranging from junk food and pesticides to the excessive plastic packaging and throwaway “Happy Meal” toys it relentlessly pushes across the globe.

Nevertheless, the global chain is hoping to put its marketing to good use by converting its outdoor ads in Sweden into “bee hotels” in a bid to boost the essential pollinator population.

The Swedish branch of McDonald’s has joined forces with advertising corporation JCDecaux in an attempt to turn its billboards into structures that double up as bee shelters. To achieve this, the company is drilling holes into dozens of its outdoor ads to attract and house honeybees. Branding.news reports that they have also teamed up with creative agency NORD DDB to build elaborate billboard “homes” for bees that resemble the restaurant,

The company is hoping that to convey the message that rather than being a big part of the problem, the Golden Arches can be a part of the solution as well.

Henrik Nerell, Environmental Manager at McDonald’s in Sweden, explained,  “The survival of bees is an important issue for society as a whole. That we can use our signs for a good cause feels great. The initiative, which has sprung from our franchisees’ personal commitment to the issue, has been made possible in collaboration with JC Decaux and we are proud and excited to welcome our flying guests soon as they move into our bee hotels.”

Scientists globally have been sounding the alarm in recent years about Colony Collapse Disorder that is a fast-unfolding problem feared as an existential crisis for bee populations around the world. Studies have mainly blamed the overuse of toxic pesticides, climate change, habitat loss, and disease for this crisis.

But experts have warned that our healthy wish to help boost the bee population won’t be solved just by purchasing or building “bee houses.” In fact, instead of becoming an ideal home for the pollinators, bee houses can quickly transform into wretched hives of parasites and pollution that may essentially doom the poor bees seeking shelter in the miniature “roach motels.”

Gizmodo reports, “The most prevalent problem with bee houses is that when they’re not cared for properly, they can become breeding grounds for pests, mold, fungus, and disease. As Colin Purrington, an evolutionary biologist and bee house enthusiast who recently had a viral thread on Twitter about deadly bee houses, put it to Earther, it’s like having a hotel with no maid service. ‘If you were staying in a hotel and it never, ever cleaned anything it would be gross,’ he said.”

Critics have repeatedly accused the fast-food mega-corporation of “greenwashing,” i.e. manipulating consumer sentiment by portraying itself as more sustainable and ethical than it really is.

In the past, the McDonalds has pledged to recycle more, source cage-free eggs, use “sustainably sourced” beef and coffee beans as well as commit to a range of climate initiatives to reduce the company’s massive contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. But critics have criticized the conglomerate for adding some environmentalist spin to its propaganda portfolio in a bid to gratify an increasingly environmentally conscious customer base.

Whether the Big M’s new “bee house” ad strategy is more spin and less substance is yet to be seen. A brilliant but snarky Burger King guerilla marketing campaign says, “The moral is: never trust a clown.”

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