Avertising aimed at Children
a. Many of the advertistng campaigns undertaken by the plaintiffs are aimed
at children. The artificial character 'Ronald McDonald' and the fantasy
world 'McDonaldland' used in advertisements by the plaintiffs are well
known to children and are intended to appeal to them. In the United
Kingdom, a director of the Second plaintiff has acknowledged that most television
commercials went out in the afternoon when children were watching, and that
it was pressure from the children which brought their parents into McDonald's
b. Children are led to believe that it is part of normal life to eat at McDonald's and take part in the 'McDonaldland' experience and that they are missing out on part of that normal life if they do not take part.
c. A study carried out by McDonald's headquarters in the USA in the 1970's found that in three out of four families it was the children who decided where to eat.
d. A number of the company's advertisements have been challenged by the relevant authorities: (See also pleadings elsewhere)
e. In 1986, television advertisements in the USA for Chicken McNuggets stated that the product was made from 100% chicken. In fact the product contained ground up chicken skin, breading and was fried in beef fat. The New York State Attorney General complained about the advertisements and subsequently McDonald's dropped the advertisements.
f. In or around October 1989, McDonald's had to give the Australian Trade practices Commission a written undertaking not to re-use full page advertisements which had incorrectly stated that their packaging (made with HCFSs) was 'ozone friendly'
g. UK, November 1990. The advertising standards authority ruled that a McDonald's advert was misleading which claimed that chemicals only played a very small part In the company's food.
h. UK, April 1991. The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint against a McDonald's advert in 'Our Schools' magazine (aimed at 5-11 yr olds) headlined "Go Green - McDonald's and the Environment' The Authority found that the advert had wrongly implied that if the company ended its practice of using foam packaging, a paper based alternative would not be 'fully recyclable'. It also found that it was misleading for the company to refer to the 'recyclability' of their packaging if they themselves were not engaged In recycling the material. The company admitted that they had only had a small and temporary pilot recycling scheme at four Nottingham stores.
i. In or around April 1990, a court in Finland banned a McDonald's television advert, stating that it exploited the loneliness of a child and could give the impression that McDonald's products can replace friends or lessen loneliness. The advert showed a boy unhappily surveying what was to be his new home, and his despair turning to joy when he saw a McDonald's across the street.
j. In or around February 1994, Government regulators in Korea considered that McDonald's promotion of children's 'Happy Meals' specials was pressurising them to spend more money. Officials interviewed company executives concerning this.
k. In or before December 1985, McDonald's UK president Paul Preston, when questioned about how the company had managed to grow so fast in the UK, admitted that 'Most of our television commercials went out in the afternoon when the kids were watching. It was pressure from the kids which brought their parents into our restaurants'
l. USA. In or around 1990. Geoffrey Guiliano, the actor who portrayed Ronald McDonald, stated after leaving the position: 'I brainwashed youngsters into doing wrong. I want to say sorry to children everywhere for selling out to concerns who make millions by murdering animals'