A grassroots challenge for the McMultinational: McSpotlight

By Sam Tucker

WebActive Web Site; Spring 1996

Press Index

Maybe you've eaten a BigMac recently? Just a quick bite, right? Well there's more to the fast-food behemoth than, well, fast food.

In the late 1980s, Helen Steel and Dave Morris, two activists working for Greenpeace London, helped distribute a fact sheet called "What's Wrong with McDonalds?" The document claimed, among other things, that the company destroys rainforests, abuses animals, and exploits children and workers. McDonalds didn't take very kindly to these claims and sued the two activists for libel. And so began the saga known as McLibel.

A huge multinational company takes on two underpaid activists. A quick battle, right? Wrong. The legal melee continues today. Eyes across the world have turned their attention to the English courtroom. Now, those eyes are aided by the new Web site, McSpotlight.

The site is a sophisticated and grand undertaking. The offerings are painstakingly researched and well presented, resulting in a powerful Web presence. Everything you want to know (or don't want to know) about McDonalds is here. Read about the case and find weekly updates taken from court transcripts. Explore the research behind the claims in "What's Wrong with McDonalds?" Absorb media, objective and not-so objective, related to the case. Take the McQuiz and learn that Coca-Cola is part of a balanced diet and that making lots of trash is good because it keeps landfills from being "vast, empty gravel pits." And, if you're so moved, get involved in the campaign.

Regardless of the legal outcome, the activists can already claim victory. The home page reads "McDonalds spends over $1.8 billion dollars a year broadcasting their [sic] glossy image to the whole world--this is a small space for alternatives to be heard." It is a small space, but well used and well positioned, allowing its message to be broadcast to the whole world as well, and it certainly didn't cost $1.8 billion.

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