A new commercial meant to link heart disease to fast food debuted Thursday on television in and around the nation’s capital, and it targets all of its criticism at the world’s largest quick-service chain, McDonald’s.
The ad, produced by the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, or PCRM, shows a corpse clutching a hamburger in a morgue, sports an “I was lovin’ it” tagline that riffs on McDonald’s longtime slogan, and uses the chain’s Golden Arches logo and red and yellow color scheme. The commercial’s voice-over says: “High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian.”
View the ad below:
McDonald’s director of nutrition, Cindy Goody, responded in a statement that the commercial was “misleading and unfair to all consumers.”
“To position McDonald’s in this way is not only inaccurate, but misdirected and not grounded in facts,” Goody said. “We offer a wide variety of menu choices that can be made into meal combinations that provide less than one-third of the government’s daily recommendation for total fat, sodium and calories. … We encourage and educate the public to adopt recommended eating patterns in achievable, gradual and sensitive ways.”
McDonald’s has several items listed on HealthyDiningFinder.com, including smaller sizes of its Real Fruit Smoothies, grilled versions of its Chicken Snack Wrap, and side salads.
“As always,” Goody said, “we continue to assess our menu and actively engage in dialogue with experts to determine opportunities to offer expanded menu choices and additional information and education that enable our customers to make the choices that are right for them.”
PCRM’s commercial has been viewable online for several days, but was shown on television for the first time Thursday night during local news broadcasts and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Comedy Central. The organization said it is considering airing the spot in other cities with high concentrations of quick-service restaurants like Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Houston and Los Angeles.
PCRM chose Washington as the first city to begin its campaign with the commercial because of its high density of quick-service outlets, citing its survey that found the city has more locations of McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC per square mile than eight other cities of similar population size. The organization also said that more than 1,500 residents of the district die each year from heart disease.
“Our city’s addiction to Big Macs and other high-fat fast food is literally breaking our hearts,” said Susan Levin, the organization’s nutrition education director. “It’s time to tackle the district’s heart disease problem head-on. A moratorium on new fast-food restaurants could be a critically important step toward fighting this epidemic.”
The Los Angeles City Council in 2008 passed a moratorium on new quick-service restaurants in a part of the city containing many low-income neighborhoods. That two-year measure expired Sept. 14, and the city council is considering making it permanent.
Contact Mark Brandau at [email protected].