Court is just another day in the life of the McDonald's Corporation as they have spent a good portion of their time in court since 1990. The purpose of this paper is to explore the "McLibel" case in its' different aspects as well as examining the "Super-Size-Me" issue made controversial by the movie entitled just that, "Super-Size-Me. Further, to examine the issues that Australia is presently handling in the educational system in relation to the McDonald's Corporation. Finally to compare and contrast all of these cases or in their various attributes either the same or different.
According to a report from ABC Newsnet Online,
one-thirds of Australians are either overweight or obese. The plan for a ban on advertising of junk food during children television hours is expected from the Government as a strategic effort in reducing childhood obesity. According to the report at least one out of five people in Australia are overweight. Dr. David Kemp, Prime Minister of Education met with McDonald's Corporation concerning an issue of training at McDonald's as being integrated as school curriculum and points being given the students in this Mcplan of curricular oddity. There are concerns, according to the ABC news report as follows:
1. Termed an "insidious form of advertising" it is believed that it is an attempt to use the educational system for profiteering purposes.
2. Further budget cuts as well as McDonald's and other companies to follow becoming an "integral part" of the educational system.
3. Too much power will be in McDonald's possession in relation to young employees whose future prospective employment could be ruined.
4. "Misery pay" will be possessed by McDonald's from the labor of students who are pretty happy about getting paid and completing school credits over the holidays.
5. This is the "epitome" of treating "individuals" as a commodity and "life" as a corporation within the view of the public.
McDonald's Corporation in Australia is requesting to be firmly entrenched in the Australian "formal government of the educational system" making requests and meeting with the Prime Minister in what is an attempt to link in the Co-op of education and enterprise.
According to a report from CNS News Online, Pacific Rim Bureau:
"Prime Minister John Howard has slammed Labor's proposal, saying parents were responsible for what children eat, and that "banning this, that or the other" would not solve the problem."
Senator Kate Lundy countered stating that:
"A total ban on all food and drink advertising during television programs aimed directly at children is considered to be the option that will have genuine impact on "junk" food advertising to children."
According to the CNS report there are more TV food ads in Australia than other developed countries during children viewing hours in the total of more than a dozen an hour more.
The Health Minister-established "2002 Task Force" recently came back with a report that did everything but suggest regulatory action in relation to TV advertising of junk food during children viewing hours. According to the report, " more than one-third of Australians are obese."
The Royal Australian College of Physicians reported that a large percentage of TV advertising during children viewing hours was "junk food and candy items" and issued a call for regulations of the advertising stating:
"Media organizations and the food industry are held accountable for the consequences of food advertising to children."
In the same report the Dieticians Association of Australia was quote as having said in reference to the issues of bans on advertising that:
"Banning issues make headlines but don't solve the obesity issue."
In the interim McDonald's has challenged the movie starring Morgan Spurlock, the box office hit "Super-Size-Me," a documentary of an individual who ate nothing except McDonald for thirty days, who super-sized his order every time employees of McDonald's made the suggestion. He gained quiet a few pounds, became short-of-breath as well as having his doctors worried. The film has been labeled "a propaganda film" by the Virginia based "Center for Individual Freedom" who states that "the film is an attempt to demonize McDonald's as an enabler of obesity."
Reported, was that the Federal Health Department commissioned a report and then rejected the results which stated that:
" A ban on TV food advertising during children's viewing hours would reduce the consumption of junk food."
According to Labor government opposition leader, Mark Latham:
"More than 35 hours of television each are viewed each week by more than 14% of kids."
The Government's Position on Advertising and Obesity:
The Government has made it clear through numerous reports that parents hold the responsibility for what children eat and stated that:
"There is no evidence to link junk food to obesity."
Advertisers and government are working together in a coordinated effort in addressing the problem.
Successful Advertising Bans:
Both Sweden and Quebec, a province in Canada, have implemented successful advertising bands in the movement against junk foods. There are issues of a serious nature in the opinion of many individuals and corporations in Australia of McDonald's being conjoined with the educational system. Some of the issues that have been mentioned throughout the many reports examined are for starters, the fact that McDonalds will hold an extreme amount of power over the very young student- employees with relation to their pay and school credits. It appears to some that the trade laws in Australia may possibly be violated and the "national policy in competition" as well. Other critics have voiced that this is going to result in other businesses attempting involvement in the educational process in Australia creating a bigger problem that the Prime Minister has conceived of. Finally, the fact that McDonalds would be interwoven into the very fabric of the educational system that the availability of knowledge might be limited. For example: should the teacher desire to use, as part of the lesson plan, the "McLibel" court history.
Another fear that has been expressed is that McDonald's, will by hiring students, receive grants to fund the students pay and thereby pay little to nothing for the "slave labor" of students.
Dubbed the "McLibel" by the Chicago Tribune, this case was filed in 1990 by two out of work environmentalists. The "McLibel" case became an entangled web of bad public relations costing McDonald's around $8,000 per day, for a total of approximately $4 million in court costs alone. McDonalds' won a "technical victory" according to the Chicago Tribune, however, "the case has long since been deemed a public relations nightmare."
Wal-Mart counter-sued the environmentalist and they had no means of defense due to the unemployment status of each as well as having been denied legal aid. The case drug out interminably for 199 days costing McDonald's somewhere between $8,500.00 and $9,500.00 per day.
During the course of the trial McDonald reneged on providing the defendant's with the agreed copy of each day's court transcripts. The transcript cost $525.00 per day. McDonald's tactic didn't reflect well on them in view of the public particularly so as the Judge stated that he would give up his copy of the transcript and give it to the Defendants so that they could attempt proper defense on their own behalf.
McDonald's discussed dismissing the suit, a fact leaked by Head of Communications for McDonald's.
The defendants made as a condition to dismissal of the suit the following:
"Our preconditions for allowing the McDonald's Corporation to withdraw from the case are: We call on the McDonald's Corporation to give an undertaking not to sue any organizations or individuals for making statements similar to those contained in the London Greenpeace Fact-sheet. We can on McDonald's to apologize to those people they have sued in the past for such statements. We call on McDonald's to pay a substantial sum to a mutually agreeable third party in lieu of compensation to us."
In the comparison and contrast of these three different cases in which McDonald's has become embroiled there is one distinguishing element that separates the "McLibel" case and the "Super-Size-Me" issues. When the "McLibel" case was on-going, McDonald's severely tarnished its' image, as well its reputation in the area of public relations creating in the process a hostile environment for the Corporation in many spots in the world.
However, McDonalds has proceeded carefully, indeed, much more carefully in the "Super-Size-Me" issue. This is demonstrated by the fact that the "Super-Size-Me" campaign was immediately terminated at the time the movie was released. In fact, the McDonald's Corporation was so quick to terminate the campaign, it does lead one to wonder if it wasn't expressly for preservation of McDonald's public imagine. Certainly McDonald's has motive to desire not to appear as though they exploit their own employees. Particularly, in light of the stated aspirations for involvement in the educational system of Australia, the strategic move of cancellation of the "Super-Size-Me" campaign appears slightly "filet-o-fishy." It is certain that McDonald's has high hopes for dipping their mighty arches into the till, or…