A new McDonald's campaign advertising iced coffee and warning subway riders not to fall asleep and risk "ending up in Far Rockaway" has angered some residents, including the city councilman representing the district.
Councilman James Sanders Jr., the Democrat serving that part of Queens, has taken the unusual step of banning Ronald McDonald, the fast-food chain's lanky upbeat clown, from the area.
"I can assure the marketing boys over at McDonald's that most people don't wind up in the Rockaways by accident," Sanders said in a statement. "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 referred to the ad as a heartless attack on the Far Rockaway customer base.
"I am hereby banning Ronald McDonald from our peninsula," Sanders declared in his statement. "He can no longer walk our 7 miles of boardwalk, or sunbathe on our 14 miles of beach front, and I better not catch him frolicking on a summer day in our cool, relaxing water."
Sanders did make clear the potential for Ronald McDonald's redemption.
"I will, however, allow Ronald back to the Rockaways if he comes out to visit, by train, and express his love for our community," he said.
Jennifer Nagy, New York metro region marketing manager for McDonald's, said the message of the campaign was never to insult the neighborhood, and said the ads would be replaced "immediately."
"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," she wrote in a statement sent to NBC New York. "The goal was to position McDonald's Iced Coffee as a solution to instead stay awake. We never meant to disparage Far Rockaway or those who live there."