witness statement

name: Michael Hayden
section: Advertising
for: The Prosecution
experience: Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of McDonalds Restaurants Limited



full statement:

  1. I am a Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of McDonalds Restaurants Limited. I joined McDonald's 15 years ago with a view to establishing the company's marketing department in the United Kingdom as at the time no such department was established to deal with this function. At a later date I helped set up a separate public relations department, and have been responsible for this function until 1992.
  2. I have been associated with marketing for 30 years and public relations for 20 years and have worked with several leading advertising agencies and as a Marketing Manager with Beechams prior to joining McDonald's.
  3. Consequently I have had 15 years experience and detailed knowledge of McDonald's Marketing Policies and their advertising campaigns.
  4. I have read the pleadings in this action produced by the Defendants and in particular that part of plea of justification headed 'Advertising aimed at Children' on which I have the following comments.

Plaintiffs' Advertising Strategy

5. Between 1986 and 1992 the total amount of advertising expenditure spent by McDonald's which has been aimed at children exclusively has reduced from 31.7% in 1986 o 14.7% in 1992. The figures are as follows:

1986 31.7%

1987 27.26%

1988 22.18%

1989 22.49%

1990 14.67%

1991 14.22%

1992 14.66%

6. Generally there are four categories of media advertising in which McDonald's participates:-

1. Television air time;

2. Radio airtime;

3. Press space and magazine space;

4. Outdoor advertising;

5. Cinema

Additionally there is promotional material distributed in all stores.

7. Taking each category in turn, with regard to television advertisements, audiences are divided into two groups; Adults and Children.

8. Within the adult group advertising is generally categorised into three groups; adults; housewives; and homes. McDonald's target all categories and our prime target is to those adults who fall within the 18 - 35 age group. This is because McDonalds is a family restaurant and a number of customers within that age group either have children whom they bring to McDonald's for a family meal, or who use the restaurants at work or on social occasions.

9. The number of new television commercials, including adaptations made between 1987 and 1992 on behalf of McDonald's Restaurants Limited is 128, 31 of which have featured Ronald McDonald and/or which have been addressed to children, examples of which have been disclosed on discovery. The remainder, 97, have been targeted solely to the adult market. In 1990 alone 28 new advertisements have been made and only five of which have been targeted to children.

10. With regard to radio airtime, McDonald's are one of the top five radio advertisers in the United Kingdom and almost all of the radio advertisements are geared to adults. In the last five years 143 new radio commercials have been made by the Company, 140 of which have been targeted to the adult market. The other three were children's commercials aimed at young teenagers which were made in 1992.

11. The third category is press and magazine space, all of which is targeted exclusively to adults and older children by whom newspapers are read. McDonald's rarely advertises in local newspapers but spend in excess of £500,000 on national press advertising. The reason that it is geared to adults and older children is because it is these who read the newspapers. The advertisements have included for example, new store openings, and the 'ethos' campaign advertisements which address a range of issues for example, product attributes and environmental issues.

12. The final category is outdoor advertising, for example advertisements on (a) buses; (b) the Piccadilly Circus and Cromwell Road signs; (c) the London Underground; (d) Adshel posters and (e) other roadside locations. All of these are not targeted o children although they will be seen by them. For example in the summer months much of the advertising is targeted to the tourist market and directional advertising informing the public of the location of our restaurants.

13. One of the advertising campaigns in early 1990 supported our Trivial Pursuit promotion. This was a mass market promotion appealing to older children and adults alike. The rules of the game were set by McDonald's which stipulated that no child under 12 years old was eligible to enter the game.

14. Because of the first McDonald's Restaurants were opened in London and thereafter in the South-East region, it is the London Region which is historically the most mature in marketing terms as the audience are more aware of the Company, its restaurants and the menu items.

15. In 1990 the London Region spent 11.8% of its overall expenditure on advertising marketed with children in mind and the advertisements only appeared on television and then the cinema. The remainder, 88.2%, was aimed at the adult market and was divided between TV and radio commercials, national press advertising and outside advertising.

16. The Manchester Region which is not as mature as London but is still well established spent in 1990, 17.87% of its advertising budget on advertisements geared to children. This is almost an identical percentage spent in Central Scotland, a new region where the audiences are familiar with the Company, which spent in 1990, 17.9% of its planned budget targeting to children only.

17. Thus, it will be seen from the above figures that it is incorrect to say that nearly all McDonald's advertising is aimed at children.

Ronald McDonald

18. In the plea of Justification it is stated that Ronald McDonald is an artificial character intended to appeal to children. This is true.

19. Ronald McDonald was first introduced in 1963 in the United Stated of America. He has been associated with McDonald's in the United Kingdom since the Company opened its first restaurant in 1974.

20. Of the 31 new commercials made for television between 1987 - 1992 which were targeted at children, 13 featured Ronald McDonald and 18 did not.

21. Whilst of course the character and the advertising material associated with him promotes the restaurants, at the same time the character performs many charitable functions which includes hospital visits to sick children to whom free toys are given and appearances at charitable occasions to assist fund raising.

22. Furthermore, the Company has always sought to use the character of Ronald McDonald in a sensible and responsible manner. For example, he is always portrayed as having very positive personality traits which means that he always acts responsibly and is never careless or reckless. Not only is he portrayed as acting in a safe way but also he encourages children to be the same by setting high standards. For example he is associated with and promotes the Bicycle Safety Scheme run by McDonald's in which the Company works closely with schools and also Police forces to teach children how to ride their bicycles safely.

23. The 'Say No to Strangers Campaign', which is designed to highlight safety rules for children in which the company works in conjunction with local Police also features Ronald McDonald I the safety standards to children, encouraging them not to talk to strangers.

24. Certificates with Ronald McDonald's picture and with a personal message from him are given to children by restaurants who are linked to libraries, schools, doctors, dentists and sports centres congratulating children on their achievements e.g.., being brave at the doctors or dentists or for achieving swimming, reading and academic standards.

25. In these ways the Company can ensure that the character is a good example to children as well as providing them with fun and amusement.

Content of Commercials

26. It should be remembered that in the UK all television and radio advertisements have to be approved by independent outside authorities. Up until January 1991 approval had to be obtained from the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA). The Broadcasting Act 1981 governed advertising on television and radio and it requires the IBA to 'draw up' and from time to time review a code governing standards and practise in advertising' in consultation with its statutorily appointed Advertising Advisory Committee and Medical Advisory Panel as well as the Home Secretary. It was called the IBA Code of Advertising Standards and Practise and its role was central to the process of copy clearance.

27. The 1981 Act also required the IBA to ensure that the Code was observed.

28. Since January 1991 the British Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BBACC) has been the sole agency responsible for preventing and approval of scripts and commercials in advance of transmission. As of this date the ITC has operated solely in the role of a post regulatory body responsible for dealing with complaints.

29. In order to provide a positive advisory service to advertisers, liaising with advertisers and advertising agencies is handled by the programme companies themselves through their own associations which until 1991 were the Independent Television Association (ITVA) which is now the BACC.

30. The role of the ITVA/BACC is to advise in strict confidence on copy problems in relation to the code and it approves the text of pre-production scripts and story board. With the exception of some categories of local advertisements, every television commercial must be viewed by the ITVA/BACC before approval for transmission can be given.

31. In order to obtain approval a pre-production script has to be made available to the ITVA/BACC and factual claims of any description in the script cannot be approved without full supporting evidence. Where new claims are based on clinical, scientific or technical tests or reports, two copies of this evidence should accompany the script so that it can be submitted to one of ITV Association's specialist advisors. Similarly evidence in connection with consumer credit, guarantees, product formulae, special offers etc.., should be provided for confidential examination at the same time as the script.

32. Production of the TV commercials does not commence until the script has been formally approved by the ITVA/BACC.

33. The ITVA/BACC set guidelines governing the use of both adult and children's advertising. Appended to this statement at Appendix 1 is an extract from the ITVA guidelines relating to children's advertising, all of which must be observed before a programme can be approved. In particular it will be seen that advertisements should not take advantage of children's credibility or lack of knowledge or experience and, for example, advertisements must not contain phrases such as 'ask mummy to buy you' and children should not be shown asking their parents to buy them things.

34. All McDonald's advertisements have been approved by the ITVA/BACC and so of necessity they have complied with all the requested guidelines and regulations. Thus if McDonald's advertising material was imbalanced and was designed to exploit children the advertisements would not receive the necessary approval.

date signed: 8 June 1993

status: ?

references: Not applicable/ available

exhibits: Not applicable/ available

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