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Are there any other examples of the company suffering from bad publicity?

A surgical operation

Obesity can lead to long-term health problems. © Photolibrary Group

The infamous 'McLibel' trial during the late 1990s is believed to have caused serious damage to McDonald's public image in the UK and abroad. The bad press was caused when two unemployed Greenpeace campaigners were sued for libel (written statements which are damaging to reputations) by McDonald's for distributing leaflets entitled 'What's Wrong With McDonald's?' The leaflet made claims that the firm adopted environmentally harmful processes and did not care about customers' nutrition, among other things. Although the couple were found to have libelled McDonald's, the leaflet they were passing around was found to be true when it claimed that the firm:

  • Paid low wages to its workers
  • Was responsible for cruelty to some of the animals used in its foods
  • Exploited children in advertising campaigns

Perhaps the most negative impact on the company was caused by the fact that McDonald's:

  • Appeared to use the libel laws as a form of censorship
  • Employed highly paid lawyers to fight their case, when the campaigners represented themselves
  • Broke the record for the longest libel case in English legal history (314 days)

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