Tuesday, September 14, 2010

7972: I Heart Mickey D’s.

From The Chicago Tribune…

TV ad blames McDonald’s for heart disease

By Dow Jones Newswires-Wall Street Journal

McDonald’s Corp. is the target of a new television commercial set to air in Washington, D.C., Thursday that blames the burger giant for heart disease.

In the commercial, produced by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a woman weeps over a dead man lying in a morgue. In his hand is a hamburger. At the end, the golden arches appear over his feet, followed by the words, “I was lovin’ it,” a play on McDonald’s longtime ad slogan, “I’m lovin’ it.” A voiceover says, “High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian.”

PCRM’s president, Neal Barnard, was once on the board of the Foundation to Support Animal Protection, now known as the PETA Foundation, which provides accounting, legal and other services to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other animal-protection groups. A PCRM spokeswoman says the organization has no link to PETA.

“McDonald’s is committed to providing balanced menu choices and a variety of options to meet our customers’ needs and preferences,” said Cindy Goody, director of nutrition for McDonald’s.

Scott DeFife, an executive vice president at industry group the National Restaurant Association, called the ad “irresponsible” and said it “attempts to scare consumers into making choices and promotes a limited view of good nutrition.”

PCRM is airing the commercial to draw attention to heart-disease-related deaths in Washington. It says that the city has the second-highest rate of such deaths in the country, behind Mississippi, after adjusting for age, and that heart disease kills more than 1,500 Washingtonians each year. It also says the district has more McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC restaurants per square mile than eight other similar-sized cities.

The spot will be broadcast on local news stations and on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” in the Washington area. PCRM says it is also considering running it in Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Memphis in coming months.

Susan Levin, PCRM’s director of nutrition education, says the group is singling out McDonald’s because “they epitomize fast food and the permeation of fast food in the country.”

The group also plans to write to Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty to seek a moratorium on the construction of new fast-food restaurants in the city. In 2008, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance imposing a moratorium that wound up lasting two years on the opening of new fast-food chains in a 32-square-mile area that includes some of the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods.

A city council member there is now proposing to prohibit fast-food outlets from opening within a quarter mile of each other. Community leaders in Prince George’s County, Md., near Washington, tried to ban fast-food chains from opening there this year, but the effort failed. Levin said the group hasn’t yet decided whether to ask the other potential target cities to pass fast-food moratoriums.

“It’s not that you have to be from one of the sickest geographical areas in the country to be a potential victim of what fast-food restaurants are pumping out. It’s unhealthy no matter where you live,” Levin said. “Our point in this is that, on the heels of what happened in Los Angeles, there is this recognition that something more drastic than a finger-wagging has to be done.”

PCRM has spent $7,000 on the spots airing this week. The group plans to air the commercial again later this month and in October.

– By Julie Jargon, The Wall Street Journal

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