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30/08/99 . . Reuters . New York
PETA Grills McDonald’s
New Unorthodox Ad Campaign Goes After Ronald & Co.
The activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which fights meat eating with graphic ads everywhere from billboards to public bathrooms, plans to grill McDonald’s over animal welfare issues, a PETA spokesman said today.
The group is launching a billboard, bumper sticker, print ad and T-shirt campaign that features such images as a slaughtered cow’s head and the slogan “Do you want fries with that? McDonald’s. Cruelty to go.” Another shows the company’s clown mascot Ronald McDonald holding a bloodied butcher knife and reads “Son of Ron — America’s No. 1 Serial Killer.” PETA’s beef with McDonald’s follows what the activist group said is the breakdown of talks with the Oakbrook, Ill., hamburger giant over steps McDonald’s can take to reduce cruelty to animals. However, Jack Greenberg, chairman of McDonald’s, wrote to PETA Friday stating his representative did discuss an agenda and timing of a meeting with a PETA consultant. He said despite this PETA chose to “publicly impugn our motives and sincerity.” “I am disappointed with your rhetoric, because we at McDonald’s are sincere in our desire to provide leadership in the area of animal welfare,” Greenberg wrote. PETA consultant Steve Gross answered today that although the McDonald’s representative “begrudgingly” listened to the group’s issues, he had not heard of any tangible steps the company had taken on behalf of animal welfare. ‘Jesus was a Vegetarian.’ Bruce Friedrich, PETA’s vegetarian campaign organizer, said because of McDonald’s alleged lack of action, PETA began production of its advertising campaign with the first two billboards scheduled to go up Oct. 1 in Norfolk, Va., where PETA is based. He said the group will also try to place print ads in USA Today and the Chicago Tribune as well as on billboards in Chicago, near McDonald’s headquarters. “McDonald’s spends $2 billion on advertising, so we may have some problems,” he said adding that PETA plans to spend more than $100,000 on its ad campaign in October. The McDonald’s campaign is the latest example of PETA’s unorthodox style of advertising. Earlier this year it put up billboards with a portrait of Jesus with his head encircled by an orange slice instead of a halo with the slogan “Jesus was a Vegetarian.” One billboard was placed along Pope John Paul II’s travel route in St. Louis in January. Friedrich said Chicago’s largest billboard ad companies refused to run the “Jesus was a Vegetarian ad,” so he doubts they will go for the McDonald’s version. However, PETA is determined to get its message out. For example in June, when the group was blocked from posting billboards in U.S. cattle country claiming a link between male impotence and eating meat, it began putting up ads in public bathrooms. The ads featured a shapely, bikini-clad vegetarian woman dangling suggestive sausages from her hand and saying “I threw a party — but the cattlemen couldn’t come. Eating meat can cause impotence.” As for McDonald’s, PETA is also planning a “call to action” on the Internet with its MeatStinks.com Web site and it is placing a two-page spread in its 600,000 circulation magazine in December calling on members to protest at McDonald’s.