McDonald's Restaurants Ltd
11-59 High Road
Date: 30th October 2002
Sector: Food and drink
Agency: Leo Burnett
Public Complaint From: Nationwide (x154)
Complaint:Objections to a poster, headlined "40,312 POSSIBLE COMBINATIONS." Beneath the headline was a table that featured eight food items. The text at the foot of the advertisement stated "The new McChoice menu 99p each. McDonalds". The complainants objected that the advertisement was misleading because they believed the stated number of possible combinations of meals was not realistic. Codes Section: 3.1, 7.1 (Ed 10)
REVISED ADJUDICATIONThis adjudication replaces the one published on 1 May 2002. The wording of the adjudication has been revised though the decision remains to not uphold the complaint.Complaints not upheldThe advertisers said the McChoice menu was made up of eight different items all priced at 99p; it allowed the consumer to "mix and match" those items as they pleased. They said the number of 40,312 used in the claim was based on the factorial of eight, which gave all the permutations of the eight items. They said they had subtracted eight from the calculated factorial of 40,320 because they believed single items from the menu should not be included. The advertisers said they were aware that some people might consider a double cheeseburger and milkshake to be the same permutation as a milkshake and double cheeseburger but they believed that each permutation could be considered a different eating experience. They asserted that that view was supported in focus group studies they had conducted. In addition the advertisers pointed out that some of the items on the McChoice menu were available in more than one flavour: four soft drink varieties, four milkshake flavours and three McFlurry flavours were available. They said this meant a total of sixteen items were available from the McChoice menu, giving 65,535 different combinations. The advertisers said they had intended neither to mislead nor to suggest that customers should try to buy every available combination. They wanted merely to highlight the ability to "mix and match" the items from the McChoice menu and to alert consumers to the range and flexibility of the menu available. The Authority was not persuaded that the advertisers in their headline had correctly calculated the number of different choices potentially available to a consumer when presented with the items featured in the advertisement. It nevertheless accepted that the advertisers' intention was simply to indicate the large number of available choices and considered that the number quoted in the advertisement was not necessarily so exaggerated as to be misleading. The Authority did not object to the advertisement.