McDonald’s pulls ad after outrage

2012-02-07 07:24

Los Angeles – McDonald’s has apologised and pulled an advert that said eating a Chicken McBite was less risky than petting a stray pit bull, shaving your head, naming your son Sue or giving friends your Facebook password.

It enraged pit bull owners and their supporters.

The radio advert for Chicken McBites only ran for a few days in the Kansas City area before the complaints started.

The campaign against the advert circulated on social media websites, and the apology was delivered the same way. People who called a well-publicised tollfree number got a recorded apology.

“The ad was insensitive in its mention of pit bulls. We apologise. As soon as we learned of it, we tracked the source and had the local markets pull the ad immediately.

“We’ll do a better job next time. It’s never our intent to offend anyone with how we communicate news about McDonald’s,” Ashlee Yingling, spokesperson for McDonald’s Corporation, said yesterday, quoting from the apology.

Said Rachele Lizarraga of Sacramento: “I found it extremely offensive and reckless. Why would you try to promote the safety of food?”

Lizarraga, who owns a pet-sitting business and is social media coordinator for Chako Pit Bull Rescue, started a Facebook page called “Pit Bulls Against McDonald’s”.

She launched an online petition calling for an end to the advert and started one of many Twitter threads.

Many of the 8 200-plus people who liked the Facebook page said an apology wasn’t enough – they wanted a donation to some pit bull organisations and a McDonald’s advert featuring a pit bull.

Others thought the apology was enough.

“We are just asking them to promote positive pit bull imagery. We are not asking for donations. I don’t think that should be a demand,” Lizarraga said.

“It was stupid marketing, playing into the media hysteria about pit bulls,” she added.

Radio host and syndicated pet columnist Steve Dale wrote on Sunday: “The McDonald’s response was immediate, unambiguous and apologetic – not sure what more anyone could ask for. I’ll soon be ordering those McBites, and likely lovin’ it.”

The campaign against the advert built swiftly and fiercely on Friday. Then the advert disappeared, except on YouTube and online.

It was not a national radio advert, Yingling said. “Working with the local market, we took immediate action to pull the ad and apologised for the mistake,” she said.

She did not say if McDonald’s would be making any pit bull rescue donations or making an advert with a pit bull.

Stephanie Filer, communications manager for the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Iowa and a member of ARL Pit Crew Club, said: “I am pleased that they pulled the ad after their customers spoke out about it. Not all companies listen so closely to their customers so I appreciate that they did – and so quickly.”

She posted an illustration, showing a box of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets and a pit bull laying on its back with the caption: “Which is safer? Eating this? Petting this?”

Filer also posted a photo of herself and her pit bull named Freedom with a word bubble describing the advert.

It read: “Hey McDonald’s – I created an ad on Facebook that went viral today, on behalf of the ARL Pit Crew Club because my pit bull was a STRAY.”

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