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BSLM - 2A
BAE101R W&F (1:30-3PM)
Mcdonald’s and Obesity
McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of fast food restaurants serving nearly 47 million customers daily through more than 31,000 restaurants in 119 countries worldwide. McDonald’s sells various fast food items and softdrinks including, burgers, chicken, salads, fries, and ice cream. Many McDonald's restaurants have included a playground for children and advertising geared toward children, and some have been redesigned in a more 'natural' style with a particular emphasis on comfort: introducing lounge areas and fireplaces and eliminating hard plastic chairs and tables. Governments and inﬂuential health advocates around the world, spooked that their nations’ kids will become as fat as American kids, are cracking down on the marketers they blame for the explosion in childhood obesity. Across the globe, efforts are under way to slow the march of obesity. The nutritional content of fast food--high in fat, sugar, and calories--is linked to weight gain and consequent health problems. McDonald’s bears the brunt of criticism because, McDonald’s is a powerful multinational corporation and the fast food industry leader, McD’s has more than 31,000 restaurants in 119 countries, McD’s feeds more than 46 million customers per day and McD’s employs more than 1.5 million people. There are organizations, associations, government agencies, consumer groups, activists, bloggers, etc. critical of McDonald’s on the issue of health and nutrition . McDonald’s sued two protestors for allegedly libelous statements mad e in a pamphlet, “What’s Wrong with McDonald’s”; PR disaster that made McDonald’s look like a bully, built the media agenda on issues unfavorable to McDonald’s , appellate court ruled that the defendants were justified in claiming that regular customers of McDonald’s did face a heightened risk of heart trouble, pamphlet later reproduced on
the Internet to massive international audience. Court case cost McDonald’s over a million dollars and provided the material for a full length documentary released in 2005, McLibel A group of obese teenagers who ate at McDonald’s 3 -5 times per week sued McDonald’s for causing their weight problems. They alleged that McDonald’s
advertising and promotional representations create a false impression that its food products are part of a healthy lifestyle and that McDonald’s said it would have nutritional information available to customers but it wasn’t. The court ruled in favor of McDonald’s but the resulting press coverage put the issue once again in the forefront. This case was what gave Spurlock the idea for Super Size Me. 2002 first time McDonald’s posted a quarter loss in its history. McDonald’s must adopt strategic communication responses to those who disapprove of what they see as McDonald’s role in promoting obesity and health problems. McD’s has avoided dialogical, or two-way, communication with critics. McD’s declined invitation to appear with Schlosser on NBC’s Today Show and instead sent a statement of facts and told them to visit the web site. McD’s insists it did nothing in response to the film Super Size Me and has stated it had no need to plan proactively for the release of the film Fast Food Nation. These responses didn’t help but instead made things a lot worse. So McD’s created a blog which Contains section “Engaging in the Global Obesity Dialogue” and Allows feedback and discussion. They also added more menu choices, provided nutrition education and supported physical activity. McDonald’s has done an excellent job of remaining calm and patient . However, McDonald’s has not shown a sense of humor in the face of targeted criticisms . The main question facing McDonald’s is whether they can continue their world dominance in the fast food industry by promoting active, healthy lifestyles when their mainstay products continue to be linked to obesity and related health problems.
McDonald’s has done a laudable job in marketing the concept of consumer choice and in establishing a generous corporate social responsibility program. However, in the U.S. at least, McDonald’s has not reduced advertising to children, reformulated its trans fat cooking oil, or lowered fat, salt, and/or calorie counts on its core products. Rather than diminishing, the issue of health and nutrition continues to escalate and McDonald’s remains a key target in 2006. We can see that McD’s may have tried to change its “nutrition” value on their food; McD’s is still and continuously slowly changing the world’s diet.