A public service ad by a physician’s group promoting vegetarianism has been rejected by television stations in Florida likely as they are afraid of offending McDonald’s, the fast-food chain that is major TV advertiser.
The ad, which was created for the non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, depicts the corpse of an overweight man in a morgue. His wife weeps over the corpse, which is covered with a sheet. Clutched i his hand is a partially eaten hamburger.
The ad is controversial because as the camera dollies around the autopsy table, it stops at the foot of the table with the camera framing the corpse’s feet. A facsimile of the golden arches that are the trademark of the McDonald’s Corp. are superimposed over the feet along with the slogan “I was lovin’ it,” as a female announcer intones, “High cholesterol. High blood pressure. Heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian.”
The “I was lovin’ it” slogan is a burlesque of McDonald’s own famous “I’m lovin’ it” slogan, which is the center-piece of the fast-food chain’s advertising.
So far, the ad has only been aired twice in the Washington, D.C. market and once on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show on cable TV. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which advocates the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, had a contract with one station in Florida to air the ad, but they pulled out of the agreement.
PCRM President Neal Barnard McDonald’s is criticized in the ad due to a paucity of healthy food on its menu. Unlike rival Burger King, McDonald’s does not offer a veggie burger.
Trademark lawyer Joel B Rothman, a lawyer in West Palm Beach, Florida, said that TV stations likely are afraid to air the ad as they might be sued by McDonald’s. The use of a facsimile of the famous McDonald’s golden arches could open them up to charges of trademark infringement, although they could argue it is their right to air the commercial under the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of freedom-of-speech.
McDonald’s is a major TV advertiser, and many stations likely would be afraid of alienating a current or potential advertiser.
Sydney Morning Herald, Anti-McDonald’s ad raises fuss in US