The sizes are only related to the drinks. The food (parfait, McChicken, Salad) are written to illustrate the range of options you can order to be eligible for the $1 beverage.
So, Iced Tea and Parfait?

The only thing I can think of is calorie count. Like if you get a parfait, maybe you only want a small drink b/c the meal already has a lot of calories, but if you get a salad, you might allow yourself to get a large drink b/c you chose a low-fat/low-cal meal. Whatev, I avoid McD like the plague.
I think the implication is that as you increase your intake of calories from Coca Cola, you have to reduce your intake from other McDonald's-based sources. If you're only drinking a shot glass of corn syrup you can round it out with ice cream; once you're guzzling a utility bucket of the stuff you can only garnish it with a salad.
They're establishing brand names for their drink sizes like Starbucks. I'd like the QuarterPound McKraken, hold the pickle, and a McChicken Diet Pepsi. Veni Vidi Vici Venti.
Those must be their new McLiquified Meals.
What the hell is implied by the "right turn in front of bus" warning?
They're trying to sell you food, Anthony.
@7 it says it's illegal to drive like a dick. Imagine a bus stopped at the end of a block to load on passengers. You can't pass it on the left, get to the intersection, and make a right turn. Wait in the right lane until the bus clears the lane by proceeding through the intersection.
I appreciate that Chicago has the bus number on the back of their buses. Here in Atlanta the bus number is only on the front and the right front side. So when I exit the train station if I see a bus at my stop I have to run across the street to see if it is the one I want.
@3 got it. It's humor: if you're getting a salad, you'll want a giant, high-caloric drink. If you're getting a parfait, maybe the small drink'll do.

I'm going to mark this day on my calendar. The day a McDonalds ad was too sophisticated for Slog.
Well, a parfait, McChicken and side salad are each also a dollar. Maybe that's something?
It's clearly an ad targeted at slightly overweight paranoid schizophrenics with self esteem issues and a sweet tooth.
...who tailgate buses.
As others have noted, it's about the calorie-count. But, in typical McDonald's fashion, rather than looking at it from the perspective of "well good on you for choosing the healthy, low-calorie salad!", they're going at it from the perspective of, "You know you're gonna walk out of here consuming 3,000 calories no matter what, so here's an easy visual reference to make sure you GET those 3,000 calories, regardless of what you order."
And do you think it's only coincidence that the numbers on the license plate add up to 28?!?! In other words "B & H" or "Blood & Honor," the neo-nazi code for white power?!? THAT is McDonalds' true message!

You people make me sick.
the calorie thing doesn't make any sense. the chicken sandwich has more calories than either the parfait or the salad. and depending on what you put on top of it, the salad and parfait are about the same (exact same number of calories in a ranch dressing packet as the parfait minus the granola, as a matter of fact). it's a dollar menu thing. "look at all the choices on the dollar menu! you can get a yogurt treat, or a sandwich, or a salad - and now, ANY SIZE beverage! isn't it nice to have choices? yay mcdonalds!"
its obvious that the more "healthy" you eat, you should always counter-balance it with an even larger dose of crap.
Where are people getting this thing about calories? The billboard says nothing about calories. And anyway, a McChicken sandwich has 360 calories. A fruit 'n yogurt parfait has 130 calories. So, you're not so smart after all.
My sources in the Masons and Knights Templar tell me you are asking too many questions, Anthony.
I was in the midwest visiting family recently and we swung by a McDonalds drive thru and they were already doing the $1 for whatever size drink you want. They also were serving it in styrofoam.
I don't understand, why would you get the small size if you could get the large size for the same price?
@22, because not everyone wants a giant cup with a gallon of syrup in it sitting in their car. All I want is eight, maybe ten, ounces of drink.
So if Slog readers are having so much difficulty deciphering this ad - I think I've got it but I'm not 100% sure - just picture how difficult it may be for McDonald's, um, how to put this politely? target demographic in the Chicagoland area.
The McChicken is more than twice the calories of the parfait, so putting it in the middle doesn't make sense as a comment on calorie counting.
What's going on is McDonald's took what was probably perfectly understandable creative from its agency and "shopped it around the office," as clients invariably say. Everyone from the junior accounting staff to six levels of vice presidents weighed in, and the resulting ad creative makes no sense to anybody. But McDonald's sat on it too long and the agency got all the feedback (in eleven separate emails) three hours before the production deadline and had no choice but to implement every change and rush the art files off to get slapped on ten thousand buses so McDonald's wouldn't lose its precious ad buy.
I think it is a failed attempt to imitate those old Soviet propaganda posters. Instead of two people looking towards their communist future, it is cola and iced tea looking towards their corn syrupy future....repeated. The drinks aren't different sizes just with more of the image in the shot. The text just illustrates that you get it for a buck regardless of the crap you buy.
I think their ad agency is fucking genius. It features a lot of products that they sell (salad, parfait, chicken, coke); some promotion that's going on ($1 drinks); and, at first glance, makes NO FUCKING SENSE. Why is it good to make no sense? Because analytics get mad, and shop it around to their friends, "have you seen this new mcdonalds ad?" Now the ad's 1 visual impression is hitting 5 verbal impressions (making up my own terminology here). Eventually, there is a payoff - a relatively unfunny "huh" moment for the victim. Until that time though the ad is burning into their consciousness.

Whatever agency this is must be composed of master trolls. I imagine the interview process must go something like this... "Let me show you a popular blog on crocheting. I want you to compose a post that will garner at least 500 responses over the course of 3 days. If you're thinking of making a 'thread' pun, you can pack up and leave now."
@23: I've become a crazy person at movie theaters and airport Starbuckses to get a reasonably small beverage at any price. For instance, I've recently learned that you can get something non gigantic at the Pacific Place concessions stand, but only in an $8 combination with a small bag of popcorn.
It's pretty obvious: These are the drink sizes that would be an appropriate accompaniment to each food item listed. A small drink for a small food, the parfait, and a large drink with a full meal, the entree salad.
@28 FTW by a long shot.
Maybe there is an underlying Goldilocks things going on? You know, the papa bear gets the salad because his cholesterol is too high and for a week or so after each of his heart attacks he decides to start eating a little healthier. Mama bear gets the mcchicken, because you know, chicken is healthy. And the baby bear gets the parfeit because it's just easier to cave into what he wants then trying to deal with a temper tantrum from a 200 pound 8 year old. Then Goldilocks is just confused when she looks at her choices because each picture is just the same image re-sized. But anyway, it's fucking McDonalds, it hasn't made sense since before Mac and Me.
#1 Don't turn right in front of the bus.
#2 This is in Illinois.
Call me crazy, but I don't think McDonald's wants to draw attention to their calorie counts where there isn't a federal mandate to do so. Also, there's 0 evidence for the calorie count theory.

It seems like we're overthinking it. Each drink goes with the mentioned food item. Why? BECAUSE YOU DO WHAT MCDONALD'S TELLS YOU TO DO.
@34 - Compare McDonald's calorie count to one of the other burger chains. One of McD's biggest available burgers is the Double Quarter Pounder w/cheese at 740 calories. Burger King meanwhile, offers several burgers with close to 1000 calories including the BK Quad Stacker and A.1. Steakhouse XT. A Big Mac is only 540 calories, totally reasonable a 2500Kcal/Day diet.

I think McDonald's probably has some of the lowest calorie counts of all the chains, so I'm not sure why they get singled out so much.

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