McDonald’s introduces a “better” Chicken McNugget in a magical new television spot directed by STORY’s Blair Hayes for Leo Burnett. Debuting during this month’s Olympics coverage, the 60 second spot presents an intergenerational love story told in split screen.

A young boy and girl are pictured in adjoining frames. Although the boy obviously belongs to an earlier era, he passes things through to the girl’s frame—a ball, a game controller, a bicycle—each of which is updated and improved as it emerges on the other side. (A stuffed animal becomes a live puppy.) The boy’s identity isn’t revealed until the end, when, in adult form, he joins the girl in a booth at McDonald’s …he’s her father.

“We all want better for our kids,” observes the voiceover, which goes on to describe McDonald’s better Chicken McNugget “made with 100 percent white meat chicken, with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.”

The split-screen provides a novel and powerful means to capture the essence of the hopes parents have for their children. “It’s a wonderful way to take you inside the father’s mind,” says Hayes, adding “The mystery of the relationship between the two kids is what drives the story. You don’t realize who they are until almost the last frame.”

Hayes’ restrained direction and attention to detail give the spot a cinematic quality. “We shot the boy’s scenes with vintage lenses to signal to the viewer that he belonged to the ‘80s,” he explains. “For the boy’s part, we cast a young actor with a mature quality, there’s a little gravitas about him. He’s an old soul.”

The commercial is set to a new version of the Cyndi Lauper classic Time After Time, performed by Samuel Beam, the singer known as Iron and Wine. “It’s a big part of what makes the spot so powerful,” says Hayes. “It’s very soulful and real. I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to execute this great, creative idea.”

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