Photo: Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

It’s just five notes—ba-da-ba-ba-baaaa—but you know it. It’s invaded your dreams, hijacked your thoughts, and, in moments of pure distress, perhaps even brought you comfort. Those five notes form the spine of McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” slogan, and, though they may sound simple, they form the basis for a story of celebrity, subversive marketing, and conflicted authorship.

The below video essay from Hodges U tells this story, detailing how the notes, which were initially written by a German ad agency, were massaged by “jingle genius” Butch Stewart before forming the base of a new song by Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake. The latter pair were secretly hired by McDonald’s to write a pop song based on the ad campaign, with McDonald’s involvement only being revealed after the song had already penetrated the zeitgeist. This is smart marketing: By acknowledging your brand sucks, you then open up the potential to trojan horse your ass back into culture.


Enter rapper Pusha T, who, in recent years, claims he also had a hand in the creation of the jingle. These claims, however, were categorized by the aforementioned ad agency as “fucking ridiculous” and “bullshit.” Joke’s on them, though, because Pusha did, in fact, lend a guest verse to the commercial for Williams and Timberlake’s song.

Talk about a dream team; all it’s missing is a spoken word interlude from Grimace.