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McDonald's False Advertising  
The Guardian (UK)
20 February 2002
By Richard Adams

Sorry for making a meal of this (ha ha), but it's the fascinating subject of McDonald's and its poster claiming there are 40,312 combinations of its eight 99p food-flavoured products. As mentioned earlier here and in the New Scientist, that number is wrong on so many levels: negotiations are continuing with the Leo Burnett advertising agency, which handles the McDonald's account, for an interview with the poster's designer. In the meantime, several readers think there are grounds for a complaint to the advertising standards authority, as the ad claims there are 40,312 combinations that can be bought, when there are only 255 (or 256 if you include 'none' as an option).

Making a complaint to the ASA is easy: send a letter to its offices at 2 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7HW, or via the authority's website at

A complaint on the grounds of a breach of 7.1 of the advertising code - "Truthfulness: no advertisement should mislead by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise" - may be just the ticket.

As it happens, the Leo Burnett advertising agency is well acquainted with section 7.1 of the advertising code. The firm was busted by the ASA in August last year for a McDonald's poster extolling the "Cadbury's caramel McFlurry" - which the authority ruled as breaching 7.1 since the caramel sauce was not in fact made by Cadbury's....  
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