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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