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13/06/01 . Tara Weiss . The Hartford Courant . U.S.A.
McDonald's Pulls Ads Off WTIC-AM After Criticism
McDonald's has pulled its radio ads from WTIC-AM after talk-show host Colin McEnroe criticized a company visit to Stonington High School.
The company recruited students during the visit, which involved an assembly that was supposed to help students prepare for job interviews. When a student at the assembly criticized McDonald's, he was forced to apologize to the entire school.
During his show June 4, McEnroe took up the student's cause and said the company should not have been in the school in the first place.
The company has since suspended advertising with the station and is considering whether it will resume advertising in the future, McDonald's spokeswoman AnnMarie Kemp said Tuesday.
"McDonald's has pulled ads on WTIC-AM and is evaluating its advertising presence with the station based on the extensive commentary from an on-air personality," Kemp said. "McDonald's supports free speech, but I think in this case they felt that it went more beyond the reporting of the news and provided personal commentary. That's what's going to be evaluated."
Although Kemp did not identify the radio personality involved, McEnroe said in an interview Tuesday that he was the one who made the remarks that upset McDonald's.
McEnroe discussed the visit and the dispute that followed during the June 4 edition of "Afternoons With Bruce & Colin," a talk and call-in show with McEnroe and Bruce Stevens weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m.
Recalling his on-air comments, McEnroe said Tuesday: "McDonald's shouldn't have had access to the school. It's not a place where one company should be allowed to proselytize. ... There's plenty of room for kids to ask questions of a major corporation. It's completely legitimate. I thought it was impressive for the kid to say."
During its visit, McDonald's recruited students by offering coupons for free meals at McDonald's if students filled out a job application. Kading volunteered to participate in a mock interview but instead of cooperating told the interviewer that he "hates large corporations like McDonald's." The school's principal made Kading apologize over the school's public address system.
Kemp said WTIC-AM is not "a major part of our media buying," but would not say how many ads usually run on the station, or how much money is involved.
Steve Salhany, WTIC operations manager, said only, "We can't comment on our advertisers."
Kemp said she could not provide the exact date that advertising was pulled. The decision was made by the Connecticut and Western Massachusetts McDonald's Operators Association, a group of regional franchise owners. The association often pools money to advertise as a group. In this case, the group is deciding together about whether to continue advertising with WTIC, Kemp said.
Despite McDonald's actions, McEnroe said, "I've gotten no pressure before, during or after this. I talked to Steve Salhany, and he didn't want me to be worried. They've been real grown-ups about this.
"There's an understanding that as host of this show I will say things that criticize big corporations."