Where there's Mac there's brass

by John Vidal

(Front Page) The Guardian 24th August 1996, UK

They looked pretty menacing: seven men and women from head office in dark blue suits and unsmiling faces. They looked as if they had come to protect Ronald McDonald, promotional clown for the world's most famous fast food outlet.

Some thought they were out of place at the kids' annual funday at Tower Gardens Play Centre in Tottenham, north London - among them Dave Morris whose son Charley, aged seven, attends the centre. Mr Morris is well known to the $38-billion-a-year McDonald Coroporation: he is one of the "McLibel Two", and has spent the last two years defending himself in the High Court against McDonald's libel allegations. The company which spends $1.8 billion a year on publicity, was on a promotional visit, and donating 500 to the centre. But the blue suits were not there in case Mr Morris made things difficult, a McDonald's employee said - only to make sure everybody was "having fun".

The fun began when Ronald McDonald, with red hair, big boots and yellowish teeth, arrived in a white cadillac with more minders. "Hallo, Hallo." he said to a child. "What a lovely badge you have." He swept on, not realising the badge read: "Kids Against McDonald's."

The fun continued when Freddie, a large man, approached Mr Morris.
Freddie: "We want you to go."
Morris: "Why?"
Freddie: "You're an activist."
Morris: "What's it to do with you?"
Freddie: "Have you had an invitation?"
Morris: " My son is a member of this play scheme. Who are you?"

"I think it's disgusting," one parent said. "They've hijacked our day. McDonald's...have used it for their own purposes."

But another said: "It's harmless, isn't it?"

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