* Adopt-a-Store

* Join In

* List of Stores

Adopt-a-Store is coordinated by Veggies.

- Leafleting McDonald's FAQ -

General | Adopt-a-Store | Timing | Tactics | Leaflets | Problems | Legal | Other Actions | Feedback

  • General
    • What's the purpose of giving out leaflets?
      Leafleting is a great way to get the facts straight to the public, countering McDonald's propaganda & hype and enabling people to make informed choices about whether to eat at McDonald's (and other fast food outlets). What better place to do that, than right outside the store as people are going in?

    • Anyone much doing it?
      Over 2 million 'What's Wrong With McDonald's?' leaflets have been handed out to the public in the UK since the McLibel writs were served. Thousands of people have pledged to continue circulating the leaflets whatever the verdict in the trial.


    • Eh?
      "Adopt-a-Store" is a scheme designed to ensure that (with your help) every McDonald's store in the UK can be leafleted simultaneously.

    • When?
      There will be an international Victory Day of Action on the Saturday after the verdict in the trial. This is expected to be in June 1997. (Oh, yeah, it's a 'Victory Day' even if the verdict goes against Helen and Dave. They've clearly won the real battle: getting accurate alternative information about McDonald's out in to the public arena.)

    • Why?
      The verdict in the trial is just one man's analysis of all the evidence (there is no jury). We feel that the issues in the trial are too important for one person to decide, and that the public should be able to judge for themselves. The inevitable media attention at the time of the verdict will provide an ideal platform to prove that McDonald's censorship tactics will not silence people, and that critical leaflets and information will continue to be circulated whatever the company tries. And this goes for other multinationals who might be tempted to follow McDonald's lead if the Judge's verdict goes in their favour.

    • What?
      The current What's Wrong With McDonald's? leaflets, which are based on widely available information and have been 100% confirmed by the evidence given in court (often by McDonald's own witnesses).

    • How?
      The aim is to have a group or individual campaigner associated with every store who will coordinate the leafleting on the day of action.

    • Is there more I can do?
      We're also looking for people to take on the task of coordinating others in their county or region. The region could be large or small. In this way, a branch network will be established, making it easier and quicker for all the adopters to be activated at the end of the trial.

    • How can I find out whether my local store has been adopted?
      Check out the list of McDonald's stores to see which is your nearest store, and whether it's been adopted yet. Alternatively, contact Veggies, who are coordinating the campaign.

    • I'd like to adopt a store. What do I do?
      Please fill in the Adopt-a-Store form.

    • I don't feel ready to adopt at my time of life. Anything else I can do to help?
      Yes, you can support people and/or groups in your area who have adopted stores. Please fill in the Join In form.

    • I'm keen to adopt but my local store is already taken. How can I live?
      If the store near you has been adopted, you can either join forces with the people already planning to leaflet that store, or adopt another store in your locality which has not yet been adopted. It would be great if you could pledge to leaflet a store not yet adopted, because we would like to have all of the outlets in the country covered. Either way, fill in the Join In form, or contact Veggies.


    • How will we know when to leaflet?
      We do not know how much advance notice we will be given of the day for the McLibel verdict: it could be weeks or just a few days. For this reason, the Adopt-a-Store network has been designed so that campaigners can be activated in as short a time as possible.

    • Any other good dates to get out there?
      October 12th every year is an international Day of Solidarity with McDonald's Workers (on the anniversary of the fatal electrocution of a worker in the UK). October 16th every year is the World Day of Action Against McDonald's. Other good dates to leaflet outside a McDonald's include the opening day of the store, and when they've got a special event going on inside (for example, a magic show by Ronald McDonald). Or, just any day when the mood takes you.


    • Where's the best place to stand?
      For a High Street McDonald's, it's probably best to stand in front of the store, or at a busy spot on the pavement. If there are a lot of people leafleting, spread out - some could go across the road or even to a different location.

      At a Drive-Thru, it's good to stand on the pavement by the pedestrian entrance and/or the vehicle entrance.

    • Can I give out leaflets inside the store?
      If you want to. However, McDonald's staff will probably escort you off the premises. (See legal points below.)

    • What's the best time of day?
      Whenever there are a lot of people around. Usually lunchtime and early evening are the busiest times.

    • What's the best number of people?
      The more the merrier. Or on your own. Whatever.

    • Any variations on the theme?
      There are lots of other things you can do (in addition to leafleting) to attract people's attention and liven up the picket. Make up your own placards and banners - posters for use on placards are available from the McLibel Support Campaign and Veggies, or see the McSpotlight resources page. You could also try:
      • Street theatre - for example, a pantomine performed outside a McDonald's in Manchester featured Reggie the Veggie (juggling clown extraordinaire) defending Daisy the Cow from an evil chainsaw wielding Ronald McDonald.
      • Operation Send-It-Back. Collect McDonald's thrown-away packaging and return it to the store.
      • Free grub - giving away free veggie food always goes down well. (You may need to get permission from the local council to give out hot food.)
      • Fancy dress - you could try a 'litter suit' made with discarded items of McDonald's packaging. Or a worker chained to a large mock-up burger (made of papier mache or whathaveyou).

      • Should we contact the media?
        If you are organising a picket (and particularly if you are doing something visually interesting that could be worth a photo) it's always worth contacting the local media (newspapers, radio and TV). You may want to write a press release or telephone the newsdesks (contact the MSC for a basic Press Release for local activists). If you do receive any coverage, please let the McLibel Support Campaign know.


    • What leaflets should I give out?
      The main leaflet to give out is the A5-size "What's Wrong With McDonald's?". This is aimed at adults and all the criticisms in this leaflet have been verified during the McLibel Trial. It's also good to have some "What's Wrong With Ronald McDonald?" leaflets to give to children, and some "Do You Work For McDonald's?" leaflets for workers. Also, there are McDonald's Protest Pledge Forms available for people to sign.

    • Where can I get the leaflets?
      There are a wide range of leaflets available in various formats and languages on McSpotlight.

      Alternatively you can order them from:

        Veggies (outside Greater London)
        180 Mansfield Road
        Nottingham NG1 3HW
        Tel 0115 958 5666
        (Cheques to "Veggies Ltd")

        McLibel Support Campaign (within Greater London)
        5 Caledonian Road
        London N1 9DX
        Tel/Fax 0171 713 1269
        (Cheques to "McLibel Support Campaign")

      The cost of leaflets is 12 pounds per 1,000 (6 pounds per 500, etc). If you are unable to afford all or some of this amount, don't worry - the important thing is that leaflets are distributed. In that case, please order leaflets from the McLibel Support Campaign (regardless of where you live).

      If you order leaflets, you will always be given mostly "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" leaflets with a small number of leaflets for children and workers. If you would like the leaflets in different proportions, please say so in your order.

    • What do I say to people who want further information?
      '', of course.

      Or have some of the detailed information produced by the McLibel Support Campaign (MSC) available. Alternatively, anyone interested can write direct to MSC - the address is on the leaflets.

    • How many leaflets will I need?
      One or two people can usually hand out about 1,000 leaflets over 1-2 hours at a busy site.


    • What happens if McDonald's staff start harassing me?
      You are perfectly entitled to hand out leaflets outside a McDonald's store (see below), so if McDonald's staff threaten you in any way it is they and not you who are in the wrong. If such a situation arises (which is extremely rare), we advise you to take photographs of the aggressive staff if possible. If there's lots of people on the picket, then it would be best to stick together and stand up to them. If there's only one or two people try to stand your ground, but it may be best to just come back later with more people.

    • Can they throw me out of the store?
      If you are in the store (perhaps giving out leaflets), McDonald's can ask you to leave. If you refuse to leave, you are a trespasser and "reasonable force" can be used to eject you, so it may be best to leave when first asked. Sometimes it's better to be subtle - maybe putting leaflets on the tables and display racks without looking like a demonstrator. Also, give the workers' leaflets to staff: we're protesting against the corporation, not them.

    • Why are they taking photos of me?
      Since the late 1980's, McDonald's UK Head Office has advised stores to take photos whenever a picket takes place. No legal action stemming from the photos and leaflets kept by McDonald's has ever been taken against protestors (as admitted by McDonald's Head of Security in the witness box). In any event, McDonald's would still have to find out your name & address before they could take any action, and it's unlikely they would want the humiliation of another libel case against individual protestors.

    • How do I deal with abusive/ obnoxious/ violent people?
      Hopefully you won't come across any - most pickets don't. But if you do encounter hostilities don't respond aggressively - probably best either to try discussing things calmly or else to just ignore them. If they persist or even start getting violent, then stick together and try to stand your ground or disperse temporarily. (Please note: we can't think of any occasion when there's been any violence at all.)


    • Is leafleting legal?
      No-one has the right to stop us criticising and protesting against oppression and injustice. As long as you're not impeding people from entering the store, or blocking the flow of people along the pavement, then there is no legal problem. If you are in a shopping centre (or other private property), then the situation is a little different. The owners of the property can ask you to leave (as can their 'agents' eg. security guards). If you refuse to leave, you are a trespasser and "reasonable force" can legally be used to eject you. Please note: you do not need to seek prior permission from the police or McDonald's to have a picket on a public pavement or in another public place.

    • Will I get arrested?
      Sometimes McDonald's managers will call the police about the protest, or police officers will come along. In this case, all you need do is to make it clear to the police that you are not obstructing the highway or the entrance to the store and do not intend to do so, and that you are simply handing out leaflets. This is a perfectly legal activity. You should not be arrested for leafleting. But, it may be a good idea to have a contact number for a good solicitor (ask friends or other campaigners for suggestions) just in case the police decide to overstep their powers. Please note that for leafleting this would be a very rare occurence. If for any reason you are arrested, contact a solicitor as soon as possible.

    • Do I have to give my name if they ask?
      No. In ordinary circumstances, you do NOT have to give your name (and/or address) to anyone from McDonald's or to the police, and we advise you not to do so.
    • Will I get sued for libel?
      It is extremely unlikely. McDonald's would not want the humiliation of another libel case against individual protestors. Thousands of people have leafletted outside McDonald's since 1990, and none has been sued for libel as far as we know. Even if you were sued, the "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" A5 leaflet is 100% accurate and there are now lots of witnesses ready and waiting and thousands of pages of supporting evidence, so defending a case would be a golden opportunity to expose McDonald's once again.

    • What happens if Helen & Dave lose the verdict and McDonald's get an injunction?
      McDonald's will make efforts at the end of the trial to obtain an injunction to try to stop Helen & Dave handing out leaflets. If McDonald's are granted the injunction they are seeking, Helen & Dave could be jailed if they (or any of their 'agents') hand out the London Greenpeace 6-sided Factsheet or similar words. NOTE: This would ONLY apply to Helen & Dave. If McDonald's try to use the courts to extend it to others this should be fought tooth and nail

      Of course, Helen & Dave don't have any 'agents', and control nothing and nobody except themselves. But McDonald's may attempt to portray the McLibel Support Campaign as their 'agents' in order to try to silence the two Defendants. They will fail.

      An injunction would become a disaster for McDonald's because:

      • It will spur further protests and publicity around the world about the company's business practices and its efforts to intimidate critics into silence. In order to stop the leafleting, McDonald's would have to take action against each and every individual campaigner of the thousands who have pledged to continue to circulate anti-McDonald's leaflets. This will turn into a legal and public scandal that will backfire on McDonald's and the legal establishment. If Helen or Dave are jailed, the protests and leafleting must escalate 10-fold.

      • The "What's Wrong Wrong With McDonald's?" leaflets which are handed out on the street are different from the London Greenpeace 6-sided Factsheet which is the subject of the McLibel Trial. McDonald's will almost certainly have to start a new trial (!) against the current leaflets, which are 100% verified by witnesses in the McLibel Trial. (A referenced version of the current leaflet is now available.)

      • How do I know the facts in the leaflets are accurate?
        A fully referenced version of the current "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" leaflet is available from the McLibel Support Campaign. It backs up every phrase in the leaflet with a reference to authoritative sources or documentary or oral evidence from the trial. Much of this evidence is in the form of admissions from McDonald's own witnesses, including top executives, or from the company's own documents.

    Other Actions

    • OK, I've done the leafleting, what other actions can I take against Big Mac?
      Here's some ideas. Check out the Campaigns pages for loads more.

      • Set up your own anti-McDonald's group. You can run stalls at local events and in the High Street, organise pickets, circulate protest pledge forms, fundraise etc.
      • Encourage children to set up their own Kids Against McDonald's group - special children's leaflets are available for free (to children) from the McLibel Support Campaign and Veggies.
      • Join with others to oppose an application by McDonald's for planning permission to build a new store, or an application for a night cafe licence to extend the opening hours of an existing store.
      • Set up a support group for McDonald's workers in your area. Pass out the "Do you Work For McDonald's?" leaflets to workers and encourage them to organise for their rights.
      • If you have computer skills, McSpotlight is in need of help with maintaining and expanding the website.
      • Finally, donations to the McLibel Support Campaign and McSpotlight are very welcome.


    • Do you want to know how we got on?
      Yes, we're really keen to hear about any pickets and other actions against McDonald's that have taken place. Please email McSpotlight ( with the details and/or contact the McLibel Support Campaign.

    • Where can I find out about other groups' efforts?
      In the Campaigns section of McSpotlight. Also, the McLibel Support Campaign produce hard copy action round-ups.

    defying censorship at a store near you