Earlier this month a controversial German McDonald’s ad called “Package” went viral on Vimeo.  The ad, featuring a little boy who gets his McDonald’s lunch stolen by bullies every day, until he disguises it in a much-less-appealing Burger King bag, racked in over 400,000 Vimeo views but Burger King was none too pleased.  The video has since been taken down from Vimeo and McDonald’s has agreed not to air the ad on TV after Burger King called it “degrading,” but that hasn’t stopped the ad from going viral on YouTube now as well.

According to Ad Age, Burger King issued a statement saying, “McDonald’s has broken the rules of comparative advertising by degrading the Burger King brand in the TV commercial ‘Packaging.’  McDonald’s and Burger King have agreed that [the spot’s] distribution and broadcast…will be stopped.”

What’s especially interesting in this case is that the ad, which was created by Tribal DBB and German shop Heye & Partners, was apparently not even approved by McDonald’s.  It was a speculative ad that made its way onto the internet despite the fact that McDonald’s never officially gave the go-ahead.  Despite this fact, McDonald’s is still dealing with the consequences.

McDonald’s is a client of the agencies that put the ad together, but all that aside this case does bring up a pretty interesting question.  Should a brand be responsible for everything using its name and image that goes up on the web?  For instance, if I made a disparaging ad that degraded Burger King and used McDonald’s name and logo (let’s call it a fan video), should McDonald’s be held responsible?  Back in 2010 YouTube pulled an anti-Tea Party video because it used the Crayola brand image, despite the fact that Crayola had nothing to do with the ad.  Despite the fact that Crayola was completely innocent, they still felt negative repercussions as a result of the video going viral.

What is your take on the McDonald’s vs. Burger King situation?  Should McDonald’s be held responsible for an ad that they never approved?  And on another note, what’s your take on the fact that although McDonald’s agreed not to air the ad, it’s still going viral on YouTube?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.