McLibel Support Campaign
5 Caledonian Road, London, N1 9DX, UK
Tel/Fax 0171 713 1269
Internet info - http://www.mcspotlight.org
McDonald's use their corporate 'clown' Ronald McDonald to try to
give a good impression to the public and the media. But just what does this
'clown' really stand for?|
In 1997 the High Court judge in the 'McLibel' trial slammed McDonalds' attitude to children by ruling that they 'exploit children by using them, as more susceptible subjects of advertising, to pressurise their parents into going into McDonald's'.
This is not surprising, being something that everyone knows - but just listen to what McDonald's own representatives have admitted..........
The Corporation's secret 'Operations Manual', the McBible for every local store manager, gives instructions for targeting young children: 'Ronald loves McDonald's and McDonald's food. And so do children, because they love Ronald. Remember, children exert a phenomenal influence when it comes to restaurant selection. This means you should do everything you can to appeal to children's love for Ronald and McDonald's'.
In the witness box during the mammoth trial (the longest in English history) David Green, the Corporation's Head of Marketing from Chicago, said that children were 'virgin ground as far as marketing is concerned'. He related how educational promotions in schools 'generate better feelings towards McDonald's' and lead to more 'patronage'. Their UK Marketing chief stated: 'It is our [general] objective to dominate the communications arena...because we are competing for a share of the customer's mind.' The Corporation spends 2 billion dollars each year on marketing and advertising - forcing its views down people's throats.
Here's an extract from the 'Marketing' section of 'Operations Manual': 'Schools offer excellent opportunities. Not only are they a high traffic [sales] generator, but students are some of the best customers you could have. McDonald's have developed a number of programs that you can take into the schools in your area... Good relations with your local schools can also offer opportunities for crew recruitment.'
And what about McDonald's so-called 'charity' efforts? They call it 'giving something back to the community', a clear admission that business-as-usual is just take, take, take. The Corporation's Marketing Chief admitted that community and charitable activity was 'a benefit to the company', and 'good business' which gained 'free publicity' - the kind that money can't buy. The 'Operations Manual' urges store managers to 'contact the media when sponsoring school programmes, fund-raising or other community events'. So at the end of the day, their 'charitable' activity is just another cynical PR excercise to try to ingratiate themselves with the public. It is evaluated (like all McDonald's activities) by its success in boosting Corporate profits.
So in reality 'Ronald McDonald' is just a sophisticated salesman cynically targeting kids - the most vulnerable section of our society - but masquerading as a 'clown' and a 'friend'. McDonald's should be prevented from having any contact with children on our streets and in our schools and communities.
Its up to all of us to defend our kids by encouraging them to see through commercial hype and propaganda. We need to organise, support and strengthen parents' groups in every playcentre and school, and help children to voice their own real needs and ideas. Rather than being impressed by a hamburger, let's all work for a society based on freedom and sharing and real control over our lives, instead of one dominated by profiteering, power-mad transnational corporations.
- McLibel Support Campaign 2.10.1999
Note: The High Court also ruled that it was a fact that McDonald's 'pay low wages, helping to depress wages in the catering industry'; that the company is 'culpably responsible for animal cruelty'; and that they deceive the public by claiming their food is 'nutritious' when 'if one eats enough McDonald's food, one's diet may well become high in fat etc., with the very real risk of heart disease'.
Anti-McDonald's campaign [including special leaflets for kids]: