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This Week at McDonald's

(For details of the latest protests and opposition to McDonald's,
please see This Week's Campaigning)

27 June - 17 July 1996

The Times Educational Supplement - Press Release

"The TES annual Report Award"

The Times Educational Supplement, in association with McDonald's, is presenting special awards [in March 1996] to school governing bodies producing the clearest and most informative annual reports to parents. The award was judged by [inter alia] James Graham, Manager, McDonald's Education Service.

Los Angeles Times (reprinted in The Boston Globe) USA

6th July 1996 McDonald's grind new gristle for ad mill"

Have you had your break today? Commercial break, that is.

Here's how McDonald's hamburgers are being marketed on television in a campaign that is, well, curious.

Oscar-nominated "Babe" was more than just a cute fantasy about a huggable piglet that saved its own bacon by becoming a porker version of a championship sheep dog.

The hit Universal movie with an "unprejudiced heart" also delivered a powerful message: Al creatures deserve respect, all have worth and destines beyond what humans preordain for them.

So talk about your oddities - what is "Babe" doing on TV in a McDonald's commercial for the "Babe Happy Meal"? Many pig watchers were jolted to see a 30-second spot, replete with voices and cuddly snippets from the movie, offering parents of kiddies a stuffed "Babe barnyard character with every purchase of a hamburger Happy Meal. Buy one "and your kids can pretend they're "Babe," the ad's announcer tells parents.

"I was appalled, and I hope it backfires," said actor James Cromwell, whose work and lead role as Farmer Hoggett in the film earned him an Oscar nomination. "The reaction of many people to this movie, especially children, was that they were made aware that meat comes from animals, a connection that McDonald's for many years has tried to cloud over."

Added actress Gretchen Wyler, President of the Ark Trust, a media-watching animal rights group that gave "Babe" a Genesis Award this year: "Obviously, McDonald's didn't see the film. Why would it use a film with a vegetarian message to promote the eating of dead animals?"

Why, indeed, this incongruous pairing of the moving "Babe" and burgers? "We have some Happy Meal toys that are available with the purchase of a Happy Meal," said Malesia Webb-Dunn, a McDonald's spokeswoman in a phone interview from the company's Oak Brook IL headquarters. "They're simple intended to be fun for families and children." But she wouldn't elaborate any further, even when asked.

MCA/Universal is the official licenser of the movie "Babe." But Kennedy Miller, the Australian production company associated with "Babe," also had "approval on the spots," said the company's Los Angeles spokesman, Johnny Friedkin. "It's not that they sneaked this by us. We knew about it, but not how big we were going to be in it. And things got forgotten. Then all of a sudden, a date was upon us.?

How did Kennedy Miller respond to the spot? "We couldn't believe it," Friedkin said. "We thought, ' How silly.' If ever a film is against eating meat, 'Babe' is it."

Until, that is, the movie met the golden arches, where, as the "Babe" slogan says on Happy Meal displays inside McDonald's (which has bacon and sausage on its menu), "a little pig goes a long way.?

Myers, Fletcher & Gordon [Jamaican law firm]

March 1996

The American fast food giant, McDonald's Corporation ("McDonald's") has again entered into litigation which may prove more costly than at first envisaged. This time the proceedings are in Jamaica. Thanks to the Internet, the recipients of McDonald's latest law suit are being aided by information disclosed by the "McLibel Two" in their ongoing battle with McDonald's in England.

The defending company, McDonald's Corporation Limited ("the Jamaican company") was formed in Jamaica in 1971. Since then a small restaurant called McDonalds which sells traditional Jamaican dishes in addition to fast food has been operating in Kingston. In 1994 McDonald's announced they intended to open restaurants in Jamaica for the first time. In September 1995, McDonald's opened their first restaurant in Montego Bay. A month later they served a Statement of Claim on the Jamaican company seeking an injunction to prevent them operating under its current name. The Jamaican company has responded by seeking an injunction preventing McDonald's opening any restaurant in Kingston under the name McDonald's.

In the proceedings, McDonald's have made claims that their food is of a better standard than the Jamaican company's and that they have an excellent international reputation. This is where the Internet has come to the aid of the jamaican company. Lawyers for the Jamaican company were able to bring to the attention of the Jamaican court the fact that among other things evidence had been given in court in the Mclibel trial that some customers of the American company had suffered food poisoning after eating hamburgers, and that the American company do not cook its hamburgers at the proper temperature. The lawyers had obtained this information from the Internet. In a landmark ruling the Supreme Court of Jamaica held that information accessed via the Internet was admissible in the proceedings.

As with the McLibel trial, McDonalds can now expect a lengthy legal battle in Jamaica. The trial is likely to take place in 1997 or 1998.

Myers, Fletcher & Gordon [Jamaican law firm]

5th July 1996

On 5th July, the Jamaican High Court granted an injunction banning McDonalds US from opening outlets in Kingston, Jamaica pending the full hearing of the action which is not expected to take place until 1998. McDonalds were also ordered to pay the Jamaican company's legal costs.


July 9, 1996, TIME Daily, USA

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Who said nothing ever gets done in Washington during an election year? Tuesday afternoon, a healthy contingent of Republican senators joined Democrats in passing a 90-cent minimum wage hike that should give President Clinton, a longtime backer, a populist halo come November. The increase to $5.15 an hour, which the House has already approved, would increase the pay of 10 million Americans by 21 percent. Senators voted 74-24 to raise the wage in two increments: to $4.75 once Clinton signs the bill into law later this summer, then to $5.15 one year later. "This is a huge win for the Democrats," says TIME's James Carney. "The minimum wage debate has been a losing and politically-damaging issue for the Republicans. Many of them opposed the bill philosophically because they believe government intervention in the private sector stumps economic growth. The handful of Republicans who did back the measure were probably swayed by the fact that 70 to 80 percent of Americans support the higher wages." The bill almost hit a wall Tuesday morning, when Senate Republicans inserted an amendment that would have exempted businesses earning under $500,000 a year. They also would have allowed lower "training wages" for workers during their first six months on the job, a loophole that Democrats pointed out would encourage speedy turnover. President Clinton promptly threatened a veto, and the measure fizzled as a handful of GOP senators jumped ship.


The old GOP argument against raising the minimum wage -- that companies will simply offer fewer marginal jobs -- lost out Tuesday to Democrats' contention that firms take advantage of the minimum wage. TIME business editor Bill Saporito says labor statistics suggest that a higher minimum wage does not really affect whether companies hire or not: "Either you need the workers or you don't." Also, despite the common perception that small businesses get hurt the most, Saporito says, corporate behemoths such as McDonalds or Walmart use a higher proportion of minimum wage workers and suffer that much more from a wage hike. As for the workers: while this year's 21 percent raise would be substantial, it's the first increase in five years and workers who clock 40 hours a week at the new rate still live near or below the poverty line.

Kansas City Star USA

9th July, 1996

"McDonald's in a pickle over error" Apparently an accounting error left McD's $20 million over budget so..."McDonald's is considering making up the shortfall by asking the TV networks to give it refunds for ads that did not reach a promised minimum audience..." (article cites Wall Street Journal for source).

Kansas City Star USA

9th July, 1996

"Chicken, fish soon will join Delux menu at McDonald's" This piece talks about how Sales of the new Arch Delux (Isn't that short for ARtery Clogging Heart disease?) have exceeded McD's projections by 38% But then the article goes on to say that, "The biggest restaurant company in the world has been under fire from analysts and franchisees because of eroding profit margins in the US. Critics say the eroding margins follow McDonalds push to open up 3,200 restaurants this year which is hurting sales at older restaurants and the company's insistance on better service, which means higher labor costs."

Boston Globe USA

July 1996
Corporate Welfare

The $150 billion for corporate subsidies and tax benefits eclipses the annual budget deficit of $130 billion. It's more than the $145 billion paid out annually for the core programs of the social welfare state: Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), student aid, housing, food and nutrition, and all direct public assistance (excluding Social Security and medical care).

After World War II, the nation's tax bill was roughly split between corporations and individuals. But after years of changes in the federal tax code and international economy, the corporate share of taxes has declined to a fourth the amount individuals pay, according to the US Office of Management and Budget.

The Vancouver Sun (Reuters) Canada

July 10, 1996

LONDON - A British advertising industry watchdog said it had banned a branch of McDonald's from writing to children because it might encourage them to pester their parents into taking them to the restaurant.

The advertising Standards Authority told JMC Restaurants Ltd., which operates under the McDonald's name, not to target children without their parents' permission.

It said the restaurant sent a card to a child who had already been to the restaurant, containing an invitation to a free magic show and to meet McDonald's make-believe character Ronald McDonald.

Mail on Sunday UK

14th July 1996

Fury at Burger Restaurant Plan for 5,000-Year-Old Site

South African newspaper

May 1996

McDonald's sought an appeal in the Appellate Division yesterday against a Supreme Court judgment allowing local fast-food companies to use its golden arches and other trademarks. McDonald's opened three outlets in South Africa last year amid a bitter dispute with two Johannesburg businesses that it alleged had pirated its signs. The hearing is set to continue today.

Sunday Times

South Africa 9th June 1996

The McDonald's trademark war has been the most important event in South Africa's trademark history. The much publicised war between Chicken Licken's George Sombonos and the multinational hamburger giant McDonald's went on appeal after McDonald's lost a Pretoria Supreme Court judgment. The Appellate Division, which usually hears argument for a day, heard argument on the McDonald's case for three days. Judgment is expected to be handed down towards the end of August.

Last Week at McDonald's

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  • 24 April - 1 May
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