Well, McDonald’s is doing it again. Yes, the iconic peddler of fat-laden, sodium-drenched, unhealthy fast food is sponsoring the 2012 Olympics in London. According to reports in the Daily Mail McDonald’s will be opening four new restaurants in Stratford’s Olympic Park for the big event, one of which will be a SUPERSIZED, 32,000 square foot location. Stretching over two floors and seating 1,500 this new restaurant will be the world’s biggest McDonald’s.
Now I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of McDonald’s. Not only is the vast majority of their food unhealthy (yes … even their “healthy” options aren’t really good for you), but they also have a track record of inappropriate advertising to kids. Their sponsorship of the Olympics since 1976 is yet one more example of how McDonald’s likes to whitewash its corporate image and improve the health image of its food by associating with the premiere, international athletics event.
Now some diehard defenders of fast food advertising and promotions spout rhetoric that if people want to eat a fatty meal, then let them. They argue people should know better and people get what they deserve, right? Have you heard that argument before? The reality though is that McDonald’s subtley uses advertising and sponsorships like the Olympics to make people feel better about their food. For example, here’s an ad that McDonald’s featured in the 2010 Winter Olympics:
To be honest, this ad surprised even me. How could McDonald’s be so bold? The line “so now you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to eat like one” infuriates me. The mere inference that their products are what the word’s elite athletes eat is appaling, and it shows the lengths to which McDonald’s will go to sell another Big Mac, supersized fries, or chicken McNuggets.
So for me the question comes down to, do I trust McDonald’s to act responsibly? Although I hate the idea of regulation, companies like McDonald’s have a track record that proves they can’t be trusted. When it comes down to a question of public health or making a buck off another Big Mac Meal Deal, I’m confident McDonald’s will choose increasing their corporate profits every time.
What do you think? Do you think it’s time to finally put some limits on fast food advertising and sponsorships?