Forced Entertainment - Tim on Mon, 26 Aug 2002 08:57:18 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Guardian: New from McDonald's: the McAfrika burger (don't tellthe 12m starving)

New from McDonald's: the McAfrika burger (don't tell the 12m starving)

Andrew Osborn
Saturday August 24, 2002
The Guardian 

McDonald's has been accused of extreme insensitivity after releasing a new
sandwich called the "McAfrika" in Norway, one of the world's richest
countries, at a time when 12 million people are facing starvation in
southern Africa.

The launch of the new hamburger has infuriated the Norwegian equivalent of
Christian Aid and the Norwegian Red Cross and generated a storm of bad
publicity for the American fast-food giant.

The concoction of beef, cheese, tomatoes and salad in a pitta-style
sandwich is said to be based upon an authentic African recipe and is being
sold to Norwegian consumers for about 2.80.

But aid agencies trying to raise funds to stave off a famine in southern
Africa say that the timing of the McAfrika marketing campaign is
insensitive, crass and ill-considered and have demanded remedial action
from McDonald's.

"It's inappropriate and distasteful to launch a hamburger called McAfrika
when large portions of southern Africa are on the verge of starvation,"
Linn Aas-Hansen of Norwegian Church Aid told the newspaper Aftenposten.

Protesting members of the aid group have been doling out "catastrophe
crackers" - the protein-rich biscuits given to starving people in Africa -
to fast-food lovers outside the firm's restaurants in Oslo.

"Twelve million people are suffering from starvation in countries such as
Malawi and Zimbabwe; it is one of the biggest humanitarian disasters we
have ever seen. We have nothing against McDonald's but the timing of this
is insensitive," said Gunstein Instesjord, a senior policy advisor at
Norwegian Church Aid.

"McDonald's must see that the launch has not been successful."

Aware that it has a public relations embarrassment on its hands,
McDonald's Norway has been quick to launch a damage limitation exercise,
making conciliatory noises in the Norwegian media.

Margaret Brusletto, a spokeswoman for the company, said she was sorry the
name of the product had offended many.

"That wasn't our intention," she told Aftenposten. "We acknowledge that we
have chosen an unfortunate time to launch this new product."

Faced with mounting protest about the new McAfrika, she initially said the
company would "consider" a request to share proceeds from its sales with
aid agencies but a meeting with the Norwegian Red Cross and others
produced no such agreement.

Nor has McDonald's agreed to withdraw the offending product from sale.

But it has offered to allow aid agencies to leave collection boxes and
fundraising posters in its Norwegian restaurants - but only in those
selling McAfrika burgers and only for as long as the "special promotional
burger" remains on sale.

In a statement issued to the Guardian from its UK head office in East
Finchley yesterday, McDonald's said: "All of the involved parties are
happy with this solution. We hope this will put a wider focus on the
important job that these organisations are doing, and McDonald's in Norway
is pleased to be able to support this."

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