Tuesday, 14 August 2007

McDonald's slaps healthy heart on Big Mac ads

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Listen. You can't make this stuff up. According to an Australian news source, McDonald's is slapping a healthy heart logo on its products, even the famed-for-its-fat Big Mac. How could you happen, you ask? Well, it's all about money, apparently. McDonald's pays the Australian Heart Foundation $330,000 annually. I guess this is considered a donation of sorts. In return, McDonald's gets to use the heart foundation's healthy heart logo.

What has shocked and angered consumer advocates and medical professionals is that McDonald's is using the logo and other heart-related imagery (like sesame seeds arranged in a heart shape atop a burger bun) on advertisements for its entire product line, not just for the healthier offerings on the menu. (And, yes, there are a few: milk, juice, yogurt, salads and the like.) Critics say the company is deliberately manipulating consumer perceptions of its foods, implying that eating at McDonald's is heart-healthy. Dr. Rosanna Capolingua, president of the Australian Medical Association, says the advertisements are a "tragedy" and amount to subliminal advertising. The Australian Heart Foundation, she says, should step in and alter the terms of its contract with the fast-food giant.

Ironically, this whole episode is likely to hurt the Australian Heart Foundation more than it hurts McDonald's, cheapening its image through association.

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