In a development about as strange as the "Babe" toys episode, current boxes of Kellogg's Raisin Bran ("two scoops" in every box) display the faces of racing car driver Bill Elliott and (former?) Washington Redskins football coach Joe Gibbs wearing Golden Arches shirts and flacking an offer of McD-----'s french fries for Raisin Bran buyers/eaters. As many of you undoubtedly know, the two Kellogg brothers ran the medical and business sides respectively of a vegetarian health retreat (or sanitarium) in Battle Creek, Michigan a century ago. The breakfast cereals firm branched off from that endeavor. Although Kellogg's historically has promoted milk in its TV ads (that's what made the Snap, Crackle, and Pop happen in a bowl of Rice Crispies) as part of a "balanced breakfast," this is to my knowledge the company's first high-profile link with a fast-food firm, let alone McD-----'s, and it is most disturbing.
"Don't waste hundreds of pounds on expensive carpet. Simply buy two small pieces - attach them to the bottom of your feet and get that quality carpet feel throughout your home." This is one of the "money saving tips" in the current TV commercials for McDonald's. "When out shopping, glue carpet tiles to the soles of your shoes. They make Sainbury's feel like your living room." This is one of the "Top Tips" published by Viz magazine, the cult comic, in 1987 and included in a compilation book in 1994.
Lawyers representing Viz are now studying the McDonald's campaign and have written to the burger company's lawyers expressing their concern. Viz's publisher said last night: "We're actually getting quite a few complaints. Readers think we licensed the Top Tips to McDonald's and have accused us of selling out. It's extremely surprising to have anything you publish used by somebody else virtually word for word. Our lawyers are in touch with their lawyers. McDonald's didn't ask our permission or approach us at all."
Employees who want to have a say in the running of their companies will receive a fillip next Sunday when European legislation forces large employers to establish 'works councils'.
There are fears that companies may try to pack the councils with people who will never rock the boat, and keep out those they regard as troublemakers. The International Union of Food, Hotel, Restaurant, and Catering Workers' Associations says it has experience of good and bad employers. It has welcomed the works council set up by United Biscuits, but has denounced the McDonald's employee forum as "consistent with McDonald's single-minded hostility to trade unions" and one that "will serve management purposes exclusively."
The union says the McDonald's meeting - which took place last week in Vienna - was a "transparent public relations gimmick and an insult to the intelligence of employees and the public". The invitations sent to participating employees asked them to bring T-shirts to swap with employees from other countries as part of a 'cultural exchange'.
Currently only part of the UK workforce will be involved, and then at the discretion of employers. The directive, which comes into force next Sunday, comes under the Social Chapter, from which the UK has opted out.
Burger King is set to put British beef back on the menu. Executives have drawn up plans which will give customers a five-star guarantee the meat they are eating is safe. It will be an enormous boost to farmers who have lost millions of pounds since the mad cow scare flared in March. The chain, which has been buying beef from the Continent for the past six months, is set to change the way meat for its flame-grilled products is handled.
The production process will be so tightly controlled that a single burger bought in any of the company's 380 outlets could be traced back, not only to the farmyard but to the cows whose meat went into the meal. Burger King is not yet ready to announce a date when British beef will make its comeback, but an in-house trial is expected to start within weeks. Timing is crucial and depends on customer coinfidence. Another mad cow scare could wreck the plans.
But the company believes it is ahead of rival McDonald's, which is looking at similar proposals.
The return would be backed by an advertising blitz, with leaflets and posters explaining how Burger King can trace every burger and offer a promise over safety.
McDonald's yesterday pulled out of a bid to buy Michael Portillo's Conservative Association headquarters, after planning permission was rejected. McDonald's said it had dropped its appeal to the Environment Secretary "for commercial reasons".
McDonald's has given up its fight to convert Michael Portillo's Conservative Association's HQ into a drive-thru burger bar. A spokesman for McDonald's said: "We have looked at the feasibility of the restaurant on the basis of the costs of an appeal and decided not to go ahead." Peter Tasker, a vociferous, campaigner against the plans, said he was "surprised but elated" at the decision.
McDonald's, whose entry into the Indian market has been the subject of specualtion for the last two years, is now preparing to open its first two outlets in Delhi and Bombay later this year, officials said.