Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New 'McDonald's death ad' Promotes Vegetarianism

'McDonald's (video) death ad' airs, proclaims "I was lovin' it"

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Tonight's "Daily Show" probably will have a pretty big audience thanks to Bill Clinton dropping by for a chat with host Jon Stewart. But some doctors will be watching for a different reason: the commercials.

During tonight's show, a commercial called the "McDonald's death ad" will run in the D.C. area. And it has stirred up controversy before it has even aired.

The 30-second spot, produced by the nonprofit group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, features an off-tune McDonald's theme song playing while a weeping women stands above a dead man. As the camera pans away, the golden McDonald's arches are drawn over the man's feet.

The tagline appears: "I was lovin' it" -- a riff on McDonald's "I'm lovin' it" ad campaign.

Susan Levin, the director of nutrition education at PCRM, says the group hopes the ad educates people on the dangers of eating fast food.

In case the ad's viewers missed the connection, the corpse is covered by a sheet, but his hand still grips a half-eaten hamburger.

Steve Siebold, the author of "Die Fat or Get Tough," said the advertisement shoulders McDonald's with the responsibility for obesity but people should be blamed for lacking control. "We're eating ourselves to death," he says. "Every eighth-grader knows McDonald's is not good for you."

Levin, a registered dietitian, said that may not be true. "McDonald's would say, 'We have a healthy menu.' They spend billions of dollars to convince us that's true. I think it's naive to assume that everyone thinks that eating at McDonald's is wrong for you."

She hopes the ad makes a small dent in what she sees as misleading advertising from McDonald's. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine advocates for a meat-free diet. The commercial ends with the words, "Tonight, Make It Vegetarian."

The ad will roll out in Washington first Levin said, as it has high concentration of fast-food restaurants and about 1,500 area residents who die annually from heart disease. The commercial will be shown in other U.S. cities in the next few days.

Bridget Coffing, vice president of McDonald's Global Communications, responded to the advertisement with an e-mailed statement: "This commercial is outrageous, misleading and unfair to all 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."

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