- McDonald's -

A few things to read up on...

Posted by: Rex ( McSpotlight, UK ) on April 13, 1999 at 12:39:05:

In Reply to: Not an argument with myself, one with McSpotlight posted by R. Jenkins on March 24, 1999 at 10:37:26:

: : You seem to be unaware of exactly how much power children have over their parents; it might not be a good thing, but it's the way things are at the moment.

: OK, kids control their parents. It is still the parents responsibility to know what effects McD's food might have on their bodies, which is well documented.

On the contrary; it is documented, but McDonald's has shown considerable reluctance to divulge the fact that their food is not on the whole nutritious.

To cite the witness statement of Stephen Gardner, former Asst. Attorney General of Texas;

"We investigated McDonald's for a series of advertisements that promoted McDonald's food as nutritious. From an analysis of the content of McDonald's food as a whole, it was determined that McDonald's food was, as a whole, not nutritious. Virtually all of the products sold by McDonald's contained one or more attributes- such as high fat, high saturated fat, high sodium content, and various additives- that made them food that should be avoided. Therefore an advertising campaign that depicted McDonald's as a purveyor of healthy, nutritious foods-as this campaign did-was deceptive and therefore illegal under the laws of the States of California, New York, and Texas."

And also:

"We continued to believe and continued to advise McDonald's that, in addition to these and other specific instances of falsity or deception, McDonald's entire nutrition advertising campaign was deceptive across the board and was therefore in violation of our state laws, because it falsely and deceptively represented that McDonald's food was nutritious as a whole."

(From the court transcripts; testified under oath.)

This information has not been made freely available to the public; furthermore, it has been the practice of McDonald's to issue libel writs against people who make a public statement essentially matching the Attorney-General's above. The information is not freely available. Not up until now, at any rate.

You can find a list of examples of McDonald's behaviour here
In addition, it is the parent's responsibility to discipline their child, but this is frequently far less powerful than the effect the child can exert over their parents.

Sue Dibb testified to this effect in the trial;

"My research has found that there is much evidence to show that children are highly influenced by advertising and that there is a causal link between advertising and food selection. Research also shows that the higher the viewing for particular adverts, the greater the children's requests for those products. Children have also been shown to be three times more responsive to advertising than adults.

Children are a major influence on household food purchases and have been described by one major marketing company as an "advertisers' dream", an important force in the market place not only on their own account, but on the amount of influence they exert on the purchases of their parents. This 'pester power' is highly influential. Research has also shown that two-thirds of children who asked their parents for advertised products were granted their requests."

It is the parent's duty to say no; however, it is the advertiser's duty to make this as easy as possible; what McDonald's was doing and is doing is to aim their adverts at children. See the quote I used previously from the McDonald's Operations manual about Ronald McDonald.

Sue Dibb also testified;

"To indicate the popularity of characters used in adverts, the Food Commission carried out a small scale survey of eighty-seven eight year olds in 1990. This found that Tony the Tiger (Frosties) and Ronald McDonald (McDonalds) were more popular than the child's father, their teacher or their grandparents, in response to the question: 'Who would you like to take you out for a treat?' "

McDonald's advertising shows not the faintest hint of responsibility in this respect; they are targeting children due to the childrens' lack of critical faculties.

You can find fine examples of McDonald's advertising here and here and here and here.

: : Check the evidence that was presented in court.

: : Secondly, we are not, and have never suggested, that McD's be stopped from advertising; it would be censorship. We do feel that McDonald's advertising should be subjected to the scrutiny of people who are informed about the reality of McFood.

: McDs doesn't pretend that their food is carrots and broccoli. Everyone knows that it's crap.

Really? Such a statement would have got you sued by McDonald's, were it not for the McLibel trial. See the adverts above; McDonald's continues to maintain that their food is healthy in the face of the evidence. The vast majority of people either don't know it's crap or don't care; this is not a good thing for children, who have to live with the effects of an unhealthy diet the rest of their lives.

:Besides, if the board did not allow a certain add to run, that would be censorship.

There are standards in advertising; you cannot lie outright and use the lie in an advert. We feel that the best defence to misleading claims, such as the ones McDonald's make, are free airing of both sides. So no, we do not support censorship; we feel that both sides should be able to air their message equally.

McDonald's spend well over $2 billion annually on advertising; this adds up to a one-sided story, especially when they try to silence opposition.

: : Thirdly, are you aware of the reason for McSpotlight's existence? McSpotlight exists because McDonald's US and UK tried to sue two environmental activists for libel; because they handed out a leaflet criticizing McDonald's (The famed "What's Wrong With McDonald's" leaflet (the hyperlink takes you to the referenced version, where the sources for all the claims in the leaflet are given).

: They don't exploit anyone, they convince people to buy their food. I understand why McDs sued, the leaflet condemed McDs for doing normal business practices.

When normal business practices involve unnecessary cruelty and exploitation of workers, then moral people have a duty to criticize.

The judge in the trial agreed; see some quotes from his verdict.

: Such a leaflett could be passed out about any corporation, but these people pick on McDs because they make a profit.


Check out the section in the McSpotlight FAQ entitled Why McDonald's?. That should explain.

: They were sued for paying their staff low wages...you also say that their workers have no alternative place to work.

No. However, as the judge recognized; the market leader (McDonald's) has a ripple effect on pay and conditions in the rest of the industry, as Dan Gallin testified.

: So, if McDs wasn't in their area, they wouldn't have a job.


: Promoting unhealthy food, under what false pretenses? Exploiting children by running ads, wooo, McDs was just horrible for running ads, employing people that would otherwise be unemployed, and serving unhealthy food to people that had many ways to find out about the unhealthyness of the food.

See above.

: : In the three years of McSpotlight's existence it has been visited over 65 million times - due to McDonald's inability to permit a free debate on their practices.

: PS: I also oppose unions, they make companies pay high wages for unskilled work:(

So why don't you go and work in Malaysia or Vietnam; they have the same views on unions as you do...

Rex, McSpotlight.

(sorry about the delay; I've been busy)

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