US health lobby targets McDonald's with hard-hitting commercial

Burger chain McDonald’s is back in the firing line with the launch of a commercial in the US that shows an overweight, middle-aged man lying dead in a morgue holding a half-eaten hamburger while a woman weeps over the body.

The ad has been produced by Washington-based health lobby Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and is to be shown in Washington DC during Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show tonight. There are also plans to run it in Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Los Angeles.

As with most ads from pressure groups, the creative doesn’t hold anything back. The famous McDonald’s golden arches are portrayed tracing the dead man’s feet with the text “I was lovin’ it,” while the voiceover proclaims, “high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian.”

Naturally McDonald’s has hit back in equally emotive fashion. “This commercial is outrageous, misleading and unfair to consumers. McDonald’s trusts our customers to put such outlandish propaganda in perspective, and to make food and lifestyle choices that are right for them,” said the company’s spokeswoman.

In any case the company can soothe its wounded feelings by contemplating its financial performance. Last week it announced that like-for-like sales for August were up by 4.9 per cent globally year-on-year while its profits for the first half of the year rose by 12 per cent to £2.3 billion.

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.