McDonald’s kicks off Olympics campaign

McDonald’s has launched a local TV ad to promote its long association with the Olympics Games.

The ad is based on the idea that Aussies will have to stay up late to watch the 2012 London Olympics, which kick off on 27 July.

DDB New Zealand created the spot.


  1. Jake Taylor
    3 Jul 12
    11:34 am

  2. Would you like extra cheese with that?

  3. Carrot eater
    3 Jul 12
    12:01 pm

  4. Aussies will have to stay up late to watch the Olympics. – Even more reason not to consume McDonald’s, which makes you lethargic and tired.

    When will junk food brands be banned from being associated with sport? It is so wrong and makes fun of our societies values and morals.

    Would it seem strange for Marlboro to sponsor the Cancer Foundation? Then why on earth are McDonald’s sponsoring the Olympics?! World gone crazy…

  5. Caitlin
    5 Jul 12
    12:55 pm

  6. Carrot Eater, since when did McDonald’s food make the consumer “lethargic and tired”? If anything, the high contents of sugar and carbs would give you more energy… I fail to see your logic here.

    The fact is, food itself does not make you fat. Eating a large amount and exercising little will make you fat, ie quantity and lifestyle (and you may notice that McDonald’s goes out of its way to promote healthy lifestyle).

    I do get tired of people who are completely ignorant about food and nutrition blaming companies like McDonald’s for their own bad life choices.

  7. Dabug
    5 Jul 12
    5:31 pm

  8. @Caitlin, I don’t think Mr Carrot is blaming fast food for making us fat. Rather he’s pointing out that fast food has an inverse relationship to health and fitness – which is what the olympics embody. And therefore their coupled relationship is sending out the wrong messages.

  9. Caitlin
    6 Jul 12
    7:27 am

  10. @Dabug maybe you should read my comment more closely. “Fast food” is the same as any food in relation to lifestyle; the key is balance. What wrong messages do you think the advertising relationship between McDonald’s and the Olympics is sending… you can’t eat fast food and be an athlete?

  11. Dabug
    6 Jul 12
    10:55 pm

  12. Apologies Caitlin. You are correct. Fast food is a perfect fit for athleticism. I don’t know what I was thinking. I must have been arguing to defend something I previously said, rather than the issue at hand.

  13. AdGrunt
    7 Jul 12
    4:23 pm

  14. @Dabug / Carrot eater

    What exactly is the problem? You claim an inverse relationship between McDonald’s consumption and fitness? That sounds like a lazy, trite platitude. Oh, it is.

    Yet here Maccas are, sponsoring, supporting and promoting Olympic athletes? Amongst hundreds of other local, national and international sports and exercise sponsorships. What should they sponsor? Hunger strikes? Liposuction?

    I don’t see Fat-Ali’s kebab and pizza shop sponsoring sport, being crystal clear on their food nutrition and educating about a balanced diet. Nor barry’s fruit’n’veg. Nor Fatness First (sic).

    What the fuck do you want here? Banning sponsorships and advertising? That will put a dint in the eating patterns of clueless fatties, won’t it. They’ll suddenly start eating meat and 3 veg, won’t they.

    Grow up and make a salient point.

  15. Carrot eater
    7 Jul 12
    9:15 pm

  16. @ Caitlin, re your sentence: “I do get tired of people who are completely ignorant about food and nutrition blaming companies like McDonald’s for their own bad life choices.”

    I am not ignorant about food, having practiced as a chef for many years. I also consider myself pretty knowledgeable about nutrition having played sport at a very high level. I am not blaming anybody for anything and (just so you know) am currently in pretty good shape if I may say so myself.

    I will nevertheless join Dabug on this one and agree with you Caitlin. Lets associated fast food with strength, stamina, health and fitness. Lets do that and we can then continue to help Australians have the worst obesity rates per capita than any other nation on earth.

    Thanks Caitlin!

  17. Dabug
    8 Jul 12
    3:48 pm

  18. The complaint isn’t at McDonalds. They can associate their brand with anything they want to to help their brand perception. The complaint is with the Olympic Committee, for authorising the sponsorship. The Olympics is one of the most watched events in the World, so the authorised participating partners are extremely important.

    No, this is not a legal matter. We don’t want to tell who can and cannot sponsor events. I just want the Olympics to be more accountable for their brand associations.

  19. AdGrunt
    8 Jul 12
    5:26 pm

  20. What accountability are you looking for? WHy shouldn’t they authorise the sponsorship? This is all just insinuated bollocks you’re spouting. What is your actual point?

    Where does Samsung sit on your righteous continuum of sponsorship justification? Promoting to couch potatoes who might imagine they’re actually running in 3D – should be banned, surely?

    And then you’ll notice Rio TInto is an Olympic sponsor.
    I’ll call you an ambulance, shall I?

  21. Carrot eater
    8 Jul 12
    5:46 pm

  22. Roger that Dabug, hearing you loud and clear.

  23. Groucho
    9 Jul 12
    8:24 am

  24. Caitlin you do a good job in ensuring the survival of the fittest – those that don’t eat Mac Crap will live longer, healthier lives, Mac Donalds will continue to pay its PR company (thank god says Caitlin), and Australians will waddle off into the sunset.
    The long term consequences of fast food consumption are already becoming apparent, and by the time we address the problem it will be too late.

  25. Jeepers
    9 Jul 12
    9:20 am

  26. I agree, McDonalds is the perfect brand to associate with healthy athleticism.

    Mostly because you need to train like an athlete to work off all the harmful fat after you’ve eaten a meal.

  27. Caitlin
    9 Jul 12
    9:47 am

  28. @AdGrunt I love your passion, good to see someone else who has a clear opinion about these things rather than half-baked righteousness.

    Everyone else, you’re making yourselves look like idiots, and I have to say – I’m Lovin’ It.

  29. AdGrunt
    9 Jul 12
    10:09 am

  30. Anyone going to make a point?

    Or is this just going to be a burgeoning list of lazy dietary platitudes.

    Maccas, KFC and Fat-Ali’s Kebab & Pizza Emporium are not the problem, but it is an easy target for morons to blame.

    Jeepers, Groucho, Carrot Eater and Dabug have presumably managed not to turn into fatties. You’ve seen the ads, probably even eaten at Maccas and KFC at some point. But you’re not obese, yeah.

    How is this so? Are you super-humans able to resist the advertisign mesmer machine? Perhaps it’s because the issue isn’t an advertising or sponsorship one.

    At least Maccas reinvest their money into cogently promoting a healthy lifestyle and local level sports. Not seeing that from many other food retailers.

  31. Jeepers
    9 Jul 12
    11:19 am

  32. :) marketing and PR types……the only people that would even bother to defend companies like McDonalds and actually convince themselves they’re right.

  33. AdGrunt
    9 Jul 12
    11:48 am

  34. Carrot eater
    9 Jul 12
    12:09 pm

  35. @ Caitlin. Your footprint on society is awful. You would take money from anyone. This is why ad execs are rated 2nd to investment bankers regarding the least they do positively for society.

    Get your head out of your ignorant ar5hole and have a moral think for a second.

  36. Caitlin
    9 Jul 12
    3:04 pm

  37. @Carrot eater, your bravery in insulting unknowns over the internet is as wildly impressive as your preaching on “morals”. Click on AdGrunt’s link above your comment, it explains everything for you.

  38. Carrot eater
    10 Jul 12
    10:30 am

  39. @Caitlin

    I treat others as they treat me. I am far from ignorant, re your splurge:

    “I do get tired of people who are completely ignorant about food and nutrition blaming companies like McDonald’s for their own bad life choices.”

    One day when you lie on your death bed thinking back about the negative impacts you had on society (assuming that you are working on the McDonalds account and therefore helping them to sell their salted fries and sugary drinks to the masses, promoting diabetes, obesity, heart disease, as well as various other ailments) perhaps then you will consider your actions?

    Caitlin, I don’t think you understand what a moral or a value is?

  40. Josh
    10 Jul 12
    12:20 pm

  41. AdGrunt
    10 Jul 12
    12:41 pm

  42. Still no points being made.

    But Carrot Eater, for you:

  43. Jesse
    10 Jul 12
    1:31 pm

  44. @adgrunt @caitlin

    So at its base this argument appears to be one of individualistic libertarianism versus well, I was going to say ‘regulation’ but that’s not really it, is it? No one’s suggesting that McDonalds should be forcibly prevented from sponsoring the Olympics, but the critique is one of corporate responsibility and perhaps even a question regarding the somewhat insidious nature of ‘spin’ and subliminal associations.

    Clearly Maccas had/has an image problem and has been a lightning rod for social obesity issues. They’ve sought to offset this brand perception with salad menus, sponsorship of community sport teams, and sponsorships like this one of the Olympics.

    Now, on the one hand Maccas recognising the negative perception and not just seeking to sway perception through advertising/PR, but actually doing something about it i.e. salads and sponsorships, is commendable. After all this is what the free market is supposed to do, isn’t it? If we’re voting with our dollars, then exploitative or destructive practices might cost you money, so be a good corporate citizen and you’ll be duly rewarded.

    But on the other hand, I can’t help but feel like it’s not quite authentic… that there is indeed something properly insidious about such a positioning. The truth of it is that almost bloody no one goes to McDonalds for a salad, but the existence of a salad on their menu, in their ads, makes one feel quite a bit less dirty walking in there for a double cheeseburger and fries. Similarly when Maccas sponsor the Olympics, there’s a cue there, a subconscious seed, a tacit idea that actually Maccas isn’t incompatible with being healthy at all, that glistening abs and orange polymer-based cheese are not, in fact, mutually exclusive things.

    And ultimately it’s not, well at least it’s not the nutritional devil it’s made out to be. We like fats and sugars specifically because we’ve evolved to like them as a matter of survival – they’re extremely nutritious. If I was stuck on top of Everest, I’d much rather have a Big Mac and a block of chocolate than a shot of wheatgrass and a carrot. But the context of our modern lives is divergent from our biologically-evolved proclivities, and to some extent our naturally selected programming betrays us. Heart disease and cancer are the big killers in our society, whilst malnutrition and disease related to it was the biggest killer of humans for most of pre-history.

    For me, what it comes down to is this: I wouldn’t want McDonalds to be prevented from sponsoring the Olympics, but I do think they’re deserving of critical social commentary. They’re a company who profit from selling unhealthy food, and their ‘healthy’ brand image is as insidious as it is effective. Pretending, or subtly insinuating, that your products are healthy when they demonstrably and unequivocally help cause the heart disease that kills half of us isn’t particularly ethical business practice in my opinion.

    Having said all that I exercise a lot and enjoy the occasional cheeseburger, and I’m not about to boycott them or anything.

  45. Caitlin
    10 Jul 12
    2:41 pm

  46. @Jesse thank you for putting so much effort into your response, definitely some things in there I both agree and disagree with.

    I may have put it crassly, but my point was that I think it’s childish to blame corporations or brands for our country’s rates of obesity etc. We are all responsible for what we put in our mouths and how much exercise we do; it’s almost a “blame it on the Devil” response to try and pin our mass guilt re: health onto a scapegoat like McDonald’s.

    The Olympics is as much about competition and the meeting of all countries as much as it’s about sport. McDonald’s is a brand; the objective of a brand is to promote both their product and their projected lifestyle. Sport and “junk food” are not mutually exclusive, so a commercial partnership between the two organisations should not be offensive as long as it is one of both education and competitive spirit.

  47. Jesse
    10 Jul 12
    3:36 pm

  48. @Caitlin whilst I agree that it’s specious to blame corporations for what people do, or indeed for what ‘society’ does, it’s a similarly one-sided argument to excuse them from all responsibility.

    Issues like this tend to be polarising, when the reality is often more nuanced and complicated. Corporations-are-bad-mm-kay socialist rhetoric is as shallow as laissez faire libertarian extremism – neither of them work very well in theory nor practice imo.

    There are citizens and corporate citizens, and we are, all of us, part of a social dynamic that encompasses power differentials, intellectual and age-related developmental disparities, and various other variables that change the ethical parameters and responsibilities depending on context.

    To my mind if you’ve got a company that sells crap food, fine, but don’t p*ss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. Skittles have the right idea, they’re not pretending to be anything but a lot of irreverent fun, and so they rightly avoid the kind of criticism that Maccas is (or perhaps should) cop over this kind of somewhat insidious brand positioning.

    I don’t buy your argument that the Olympics is about ‘competition’ not just sport. If we’re to be honest, Maccas’ impetus to associate themselves with the Olympics is much more about offsetting their ‘unhealthy’ image than it is about aligning themselves with some nebulous concept of competition, isn’t it? I mean sure, there’s a pretty awesome halo effect just having your brand sponsor something as big as the Olympics, but the word ‘healthy’ would almost certainly have come up in the planning meeting, but I doubt the word ‘competition’ did

  49. AdGrunt
    10 Jul 12
    4:31 pm

  50. Jesse,

    Thank you for taking the time to present a rational argument.

    I think the line between good and evil is hard to draw. I can think of no takeaway food brand that is absolutely perfect. It’s just Maccas is the lazy pillory point as you note.

    I’m sure the majority of customers do choose the burgers, fries and coke over the salads. But unless you’re very, very silly then you know it ain’t an ideal regular choice. They’re not pissing on your leg – you are. You can order the wrap, you know. Or not go there. They don’t perform mind control.

    However for all that, McDonald’s are the ones who appear to try the hardest and reinvest the most amongst even their KFC / Subway peers.

    Skittles choose their own strategy, but the difference between a confectionery and a restaurant is quite large.

    I believe Maccas sponsor the olympics as they’re an international brand with broad generational appeal – like the olympics. Do Rio Tinto / Unilever / Visa expect to get a healthy athletic perception glow from the olympics? I think it’s more the scale and prestige of an international event. A false syllogism.

    This execution isn’t drawing on or inferring any health benefit from the food or the olympics. Arguably the opposite. They’re just a food option – arguably a treat food. It’s about having a treat and some fun which is where I think Maccas occasionality sits.

  51. Jesse
    10 Jul 12
    4:50 pm

  52. @AdGrunt – I didn’t assert that a takeaway food brand is, or should be, perfect (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    There’s no argument between us that they should be allowed to sell their crappy food, and that it’s ultimately up to individuals to look after their own dietary habits, but what’s at issue here is the motivation behind the strategy of McDonalds to position itself as ‘healthy’.

    You must surely recognise that this has been a deliberate strategy on their part, yes? From salad menus to olympic sponsorships to ultra-clean helvetica-ey design with blurry white backgrounds, it’s quite clear that they’ve endeavoured to dissociate themselves from the ‘fat, greasy’ perception that was adversely affecting them.

    So whilst I agree that there’s many benefits to sponsoring an event as big as the olympics, and that these generic benefits rather than any ‘athletic’ aspect is what drew visa et. al. to become sponsors too, it is nevertheless disingenuous to assert that the ‘health’ angle isn’t peculiar to Maccas’ strategy here, isn’t it? You recognised yourself that they’ve been particularly and notably active is promoting a heath angle and healthy, sporting image; but then you turn around and say that their Olympic sponsorship is just about ‘having a treat’ and has nothing to do with this strategy? Sounds like post-rationalising to me.

  53. AdGrunt
    10 Jul 12
    8:12 pm

  54. Hmmm – no strawman – perfection isn’t the basis of my argument – or yours. It’s an observation and assertion I’m making. Keep trying though 😉

    McDonald’s have responded to customers better than Fat-Ali’s yes – is that cynical, or mean they adapt to their customers desires? Brands do that. Well, successful brands anyway. Ask Darrel Lea.

    Not sure McDonald’s was ever fat and greasy – that’s your local Fat-Ali’s. That was and is the point of Maccas. Global consistency of product and delivery. I can walk into one anywhere in the world and get a Big Mac, fries and coke that tastes the same as in the Cross / Collins St on a saturday night. That’s effective global branding for you.

    So, to the olympic bit. No, I don’t think they’re cynically playing on their other sponsorships here. Yes, they do them, but they aren’t leveraging the two. Where in the ad, the support, or the sponsorship are they linking the two? Even if they were – it’s a supportable position. Moreso than, say Rio Tinto.

    The treat aspect is my view of experiencing Maccas (or KFC or Subway or Crust pizza, etc) in general. And that seems to be the angle they’re expounding. Cynically, or otherwise. Having met a few olympic athletes, the dietary regime they’re put under appears anything but healthy TBH. And don’t for a second believe that an olympic athlete doesn’t eat Maccas (or any other yum-to-go) at some point.

    Since I know nothing about any sponsors strategy apart from the marketing laid before me, I can only ever be post-rationalising – et tu, Jesse.

  55. Jesse
    11 Jul 12
    8:17 pm

  56. I think Maccas used to be perceived as a lot more greasy than they are now. Super Size Me certainly didn’t help, nor did their scapegoat-ness – deserved or not. I don’t think Maccas being greasy, and/or perceived as such, is invalidated because Fat-Ali’s is moreso (and embraces it rather than attempting to offset it).

    In fact the go-to food to exemplify what one shouldn’t do if one wants to avoid being fat is Maccas more often than not, in my experience. It’s the short-hand for fatty food in our cultural parlance, probably owing to the scale of its brand more than its objective fat content (pizza and KFC are both worse).

    I agree with you that this spot isn’t focussing on a health aspect, and it’s probably a clever move on the agency/marketing team’s part – otherwise there would likely be many, many more articles on the dubiousness of their sponsorship than currently turns up if you google ‘mcdonalds olympic sponsorship’ – most of the results are overtly negative. But that’s not what I was saying – I was saying that their sponsorship itself was insidiously helping to position them as ‘healthy’ so as to exploit a growing disinclination for high fat foods (but a continuing desire to keep eating them anyway).

    However, whilst I still think that this is in fact occurring, and that there is indeed some amount of conniving and clever strategy on the part of Maccas’ marketing team to ostensibly appear healthy whilst selling people artery-clogging crap, I have to concede the argument. In googling I found out that they’ve been sponsors of the olympics for 36 years – long before the 90s where fitness became mainstream fashion, KFC became an acronym to disguise the ‘friedness’ of their offering, and Maccas started pretending to be a quasi-health brand.


  57. Jeepers
    11 Jul 12
    10:07 pm

  58. A pleasure reading your comments Jesse :)

  59. Carrot Eater
    11 Jul 12
    10:10 pm

  60. An interesting read and watch on the BBC:

  61. AdGrunt
    12 Jul 12
    11:15 am

  62. Jesse, (and Jeepers and Carrot Eater) I’ll be brief.

    They haven’t (ever as far as I can tell) focused on health, because it isn’t a product truth.

    You appear to contradict yourself when say in one breath that Maccas are cultural short-hand for fatty food, then say that their Olympic sponsorship (of 36 years!) is an insidious attempt to appear healthy.

    McDonalds have never, as far as I can see, pretended to be a fitness choice. Lazy “social commentators” as above have done that to avoid dealing with what is an incredibly complex social issue. And you’re kinda perpetuating that with no support. Maccas deciding to not offer solely burgers and fries is a long way from making them a quasi-health brand.

    As I contended before – if any McDonalds ad or sponsorship makes you as a consumer believe that they are the daily dining choice of athletic champions, then you’re a fucking idiot whose dietary problems are likely the least of your issues.

    Carrot Eater, linking to an opinion piece that falls into the same logical trap as you, doesn’t make your argument valid. Are you simply unable to structure an argument by yourself?

  63. Jesse
    12 Jul 12
    12:25 pm

  64. “if any McDonalds ad or sponsorship makes you as a consumer believe that they are the daily dining choice of athletic champions, then you’re a fucking idiot”

    Well, that really is a strawman, and borders on a veiled ad hom combo.

    Appearances can be deceptive, interpretations more so. Firstly I didn’t say that their Olympic sponsorship was an insidious attempt to appear healthy, in fact I openly acknowledged and conceded that this sponsorship predated Maccas’ ‘healthy choice’ menu items etc. (though it does inadvertently dovetail with their current strategy, it would seem).

    Secondly, the point was that our culture (not Maccas themselves) uses Maccas as cultural shorthand for fatty food. From which it follows that they might want to do something to counteract such perceptions, ergo healthy choice salads, healthy-looking art direction, sponsoring sport teams etc. You’ve somehow confused and conflated this to think that I’m contradicting myself, it seems?

    You’re right that McDonalds have not pretended to be a ‘fitness choice’, but again this is not what was being posited. What I’m talking about is their attempt to mitigate and offset their ‘unhealthy’ perception. This ≠ trying to be lorna jane (‘quasi-health brand’ was tongue-in-cheek). Brand strategy is more complicated and nuanced than just standing for one thing.

    Like all successful brands, McDonalds adapts to the changing social context. When McDonalds introduced salads and whatnot, they weren’t attempting to become a salad bar, nor were they naive to the fact that offering healthy options would mitigate what negative backlash they cop for selling crap, and help them to sell more of that crap because the average punter’s brand perception of them was somehow just that bit less dirty, unhealthy, and greasy than KFC’s.

    Much of McDonald’s clientele are people who are overweight but want to be fit and healthy. They eat fatty foods perhaps because they’re weak of will, perhaps because they suffer a sugar addiction, perhaps because they didn’t get enough attention from dad, perhaps because they’re deluded – whatever. Point is, that many, probably most, people who eat crappy food do not feel good about eating crappy food. They resolve on Jan 1 not to do so, they stick to their Weight Watchers diet for a month or two, they intend to never eat another bucket of chicken or big mac again. But they do.

    Should we forcibly stop them from being able to choose a cheeseburger because they evidently can’t help themselves? No, I don’t think we should. But nor should we refrain from criticising strategies that seek to exploit people’s weaknesses, that endeavour to mitigate the truth of their product with tokenistic and somewhat insidious smoke and mirrors.

    Not to insinuate direct equivalency, but if a tobacco company sought to sponsor athletic events, to sidle its brand up next to healthy images, to align itself with sport, it would be more obvious, wouldn’t it, that there was something a bit unethical and insidious at play. Considering that heart disease kills more of us than anything else, I can’t help but see Maccas’ ‘health, salads, and sport’ strategy as being similarly dubious. It’s not their core positioning, and it’s not what they make their ads about, but it’s clearly an aspect of their strategy.

    “Are you simply unable to structure an argument by yourself?”

  65. AdGrunt
    12 Jul 12
    2:45 pm

  66. It’s not an ad hominem – I’m not attacking you – I’m highlighting the cognitive dissonance of the consumer. It’s not a strawman as customer cognition is at the core of advertising and sponsorship and your suggestion that Maccas are trying to offset their “greasy” image. Still more trying for you on this logic stuff.

    By the paragraphs:
    Appearances… so what’s your point?

    Secondly… If the sponsorship came ahead of the “unhealthy” perception then it’s reasonable to presume the motive wasn’t to counter that view. See?

    You’re right… Brand strategy is indeed complex, but that doesn’t support your point.

    Like all brands… You’re creating a circular argument. Becuase they’re Maccas, they must be doing this to hoodwink people into thinking they’re healthy.

    Much of McDonald’s clientele… You’re just making stuff up here. No support. And so what?

    Should we forcibly stop… Loaded question. You have no support or evidence.

    Not to insinuate direct equivalency… But you then do. And make unsupported and unsupportable claims about their strategy. Flavours of a genetic fallacy here.

    “Are you simply unable to structure an argument by yourself?” – not an ad-hominem – Carrot Eater has simply co-opted someone else’s opinion in the absence of any cogent argument from themself.

    Tired yet?

  67. Jesse
    12 Jul 12
    4:08 pm

  68. @adgrunt I should probably disclose that the website is my own, and that I came to this thread through trackbacks. Congratulations on being the first person to attempt to use my own website against me!

    “Still more trying for you on this logic stuff” is an ad hom because it speaks to my ability to form a logical argument, as opposed to being pertinent to the argument I’m actually making. Similarly when you question Carrot Eater’s ability to structure an argument themselves, you’re attacking their character/ability. If you simply said ‘you have co-opted an op-ed and have presented no argument of your own’ then you’d be making an entirely non-fallacious point. However that’s not what you did, instead you committed an ad hominem attack.

    When you say “if any McDonalds ad or sponsorship makes you as a consumer believe that they are the daily dining choice of athletic champions, then you’re a fucking idiot” you’re creating a strawman because no one ever asserted that – you took my point about McDonalds wanting to mitigate their unhealthy image and exaggerated it into a caricatured extreme absurdity, which is exactly the form that most strawman fallacies take.

    The sponsorship may have been for non-health-strategy-related reasons, but that does not mean that such a strategy does not exist, and that this pre-extant sponsorship didn’t helpfully support this newer strategic imperative to appear less unhealthy (which is different to appearing ‘healthy’).

    The point I was making was not that brand strategy was complex, but that it was more complex than you were making it out to be when you attempted to create a strawman caricaturing my argument about mitigating unhealthiness, and representing it as if I were arguing that McDonalds is positioning itself purely as a health brand.

    Your definition of what a circular argument is, is incorrect. I haven’t made the claim that you’re claiming I did i.e. that because they’re McDonalds they must therefore be trying to hoodwink people, but even if I did make this claim, it wouldn’t be a begging the question fallacy. It would, however be a genetic fallacy, but again, I didn’t make this claim. What I did claim is that they change to suit the market, which, incidentally, is also something that you earlier claimed.

    Perhaps what you’re getting at is that I’m conjecturing – if this, and not the misunderstanding of these fallacies, is what you’re getting at, then I stand guilty as charged. I don’t claim to have empirical support for my opinions here, they’re opinions and naught more. Personally I quite enjoy conjecturing opinions without citing data, and if you disagree with a claim I’m making, then I recognise that the responsibility lies with me to provide evidence or good reason to support the claim I’ve made… but talking only using cited evidence does get a bit dry, don’t you think?

    It appears you’ve also misunderstood what the loaded question fallacy is. However I will recognise that by saying ‘should we forcibly stop…’ I am creating a very small strawman – there was no implication that this was what you were suggesting, but it did create an extreme against which to contrast a more balanced perspective i.e. that although people are ultimately responsible for their own behaviour, corporate responsibility and ethics should also exist and be subject to scrutiny.

    I made the caveat about it not being a direct equivalency as an acknowledgement that tobacco is a more extreme example (Maccas burgers do, after all, have some nutritional value, and they’re not addictive). There is a difference between an analogy and an equivalency, one that isn’t usually recognised, but in the interests of fairness and honest rhetoric I was attempting to do so.

    I’m not tired, but if you’ll forgive a response on a similar level of somewhat ad hommy and pointed criticism: one thing I was concerned about in launching this website was that it would be used for narky smackdowns instead of helping to engage people in more rational and considered internet debates. It’s disappointing that your initial cogency in this discussion has descended into blithe and somewhat contemptuous and dismissive broad attacks that avoid honest and thoughtful engagement with your opponent’s argument. To find fault in someone’s argument is fine, but to ignore their argument is search of fault is less than ideal.

  69. Carrot Eater
    12 Jul 12
    4:29 pm

  70. @AdGrunt

    I am awake (I doubt I would feel awake if I had just eaten a large Big Mac meal, with fries covered in salt, processed meat and cheese, washed down with a large brown sugary drink though… 😉

    If Cadel Evans had munched down a Macca’s brekky and dined on a large Big Mac meal the day before his recent time trial; how do you think he would have gone?

    The fact is that many kids who have been brought up on junk food are now feeding it to their kids. I saw a mum feeding a toddler Macca’s the other day in it’s push chair! That kid, along with million’s of other kids, do not have a choice and consider Macca’s and other junk brands normal and everyday.

    Having a junk food brand sponsoring the Olympics is proof that junk food is socially acceptable and this is why we are now seeing people breaking out in diseases (because folk think it is acceptable to regularly consume junk food).

    Whilst we are at it; Coke should not be sponsoring the Olympics either. Have you seen the recent moves by Bloomberg in NYC to reduce the size of soft drinks? Why would he do that?

    Read up about Francis Pottenger and his experiment on Cats. Junk food is now generations in and we are seeing it’s harm, just like Pottenger saw his cats being born blind, lacking limbs and displaying a variety of defects. It is happening with humans now and junk food is an enormous reason why. Kids are being born blind, with asthma, with diabetes and adults are developing these ailments.

  71. Caitlin
    12 Jul 12
    5:33 pm

  72. @Carrot eater I will try to say this is a way that is a logically constructed response to your argument…. Oh wait, I can’t, because there is no logic to anything you’re saying. Stop talking please.

  73. Anonymous
    12 Jul 12
    5:55 pm

  74. Carrot Eater & Debug got well and truly rimmed in this thread.


  75. AdGrunt
    12 Jul 12
    6:53 pm

  76. Jesse,
    Nice site.

    You seem to mistake sarcasm and acerbic comment for a logical fallacy. A fallacy can only occur in an argument or support. If there is no argument, then it’s simply an assertion. As is the case in both the jibe to you and Carrot Eater – no argument = no fallacy.

    My “… then you’re a fucking idiot” is employing the reductio ad absurdum technique. It’s quite distinct from a strawman. Mainly by it’s egregious nature it expresses the ridiculousness of an argument – but that doesn’t make it a strawman.

    I do understand a circular argument – and if you read it again, you make a proposition that when they changed their brand approach they did it for an unstated (and unsupported) reason. That is a circular argument in its purest form. Just because it was a long and tortuous chain of unsupported assertion doesn’t make it any less circular.

    It is a loaded question as noted by the unsupported “because they evidently can’t help themselves” – how much more loaded do you want? It’s an unsupported presumption of cause in the buyers cognition.

    You’re then back to circular argument as you make more assertions presuming an unsupported motive around their strategy. Seriously, dude – “…criticising strategies that seek to exploit people’s weaknesses, that endeavour to mitigate the truth of their product with tokenistic and somewhat insidious smoke and mirrors” It’s logically valid, but the conclusion is doubtful, so the premises are too.

    Equivocacy comes not from the attempt at analogy, but because both high calorie foods *and* cigarettes are considered heart disease risk factors. If you’d used asbestos manufacturers you would have been on a better wicket.

    So is it a fallacy ad vericundiam to use the ownership of a fallacy-busting website and then applying them wrongly? If I set up a driving site, would that mean I could drive better than you? 😉

    So what do you think to Carrot Eater just above. I can see no cogent argument – can you?


  77. Jesse
    12 Jul 12
    11:47 pm

  78. @Adgrunt – no, I can assure you I’m making no mistake. When you ‘assert’ or strongly imply, acerbically or otherwise, that someone lacks the ability to form a cogent argument you are committing an ad hominem fallacy. There’s really no semantic wiggle room there. It’s pretty text book.

    Have a look again at the exposition of what a strawman argument entails “By exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone’s argument, it’s much easier to present your own position as being reasonable or valid.” Reductio ad absurdum indeed 😉

    I’m sorry, I don’t mean to harp on here, but not supporting one’s position is not at all what a circular argument is. A circular argument is when the conclusion is included in the premise i.e. god is real because it says so in the bible, which is the word of god.

    Similarly the loaded question fallacy is when a presumption is built into a question such that one can’t answer it without appearing guilty. You’re accusing me of being presumptuous or conjecturing as to people’s mindsets (and you’re right that I’m just waxing lyrical here) but this is not a fallacy and certainly not a loaded question fallacy.

    Again, asserting opinions ≠ a circular argument. And again you’re avoiding engaging with any of my points and instead are trying to nitpick. Broad claims that my conclusions are doubtful and that my premises therefore are too are too nebulous to be able to respond to.

    Equivalency was not intended, hence the caveat. Asbestos would have been a fine example, but this seems an unnecessary quibble.

    My motivation for disclosing my ownership of the site wasn’t to presume to have authority over that which is logically coherent, but rather to give you a gentle heads up that maybe you might want to properly understand a logical fallacy before accusing me of committing one.

    Can’t say I agree with Carrot Eater, no.

  79. Josh
    13 Jul 12
    10:02 am

  80. I’m now hungry for McDonalds.

  81. Carrot eater
    13 Jul 12
    2:37 pm

  82. @ Caitlin. I doubt you have many good morals or values in your possession. End of. I am glad I do not know you.

    @ Ad Grunt. You do make me chuckle on many of these threads with your acerbic commentary. It’s great, you are good and if not a graphic designer, I would guess you are a copywriter perhaps..?

    Whilst my punctuation and grammar can certainly suck, (like a regular diet of McDonald’s washed down with large brown sugary drinks), sometimes your ranting however insinuates that marketing doesn’t work? That by sponsoring an event as grand as The Olympics will not have any affect at all on the masses to make a regular purchase at Macca’s? I found this dumbfounding from what I would regard to be a pretty intelligent person?

    There is an obesity epidemic and it is due in part, to junk food being socially acceptable. Junk food is socially acceptable because sponsorships, partnerships and endless marketing campaigns bombard the masses with a quick and cheap way to feed themselves and their families.

    If we do not cut back on the promotion of junk food these health problems will continue to spread and health bills will continue to rise. The problem for our society will become a lot bigger and we will be worse off for it.

    Junk food should not be socially acceptable, which it is, even for marketing professionals, like Caitlin, thinking that she has done little wrong helping to promote the spread of diabetes, obesity, heart disease through her society.

    Now, on a side note:
    The UK’s Independent penned a piece yesterday concerning the Dow Chemicals sponsorship of the games:

  83. Carrot eater
    13 Jul 12
    2:40 pm

  84. Disney will ban junk food ad’s from it’s channels from 2015:

    Why is that Caitlin?

  85. AdGrunt
    13 Jul 12
    7:02 pm

  86. Hey Jesse,

    Yes you are wrong, I’m afraid. I really can keep pointing this out for a long time, so it’s up to you when the trackbacks get awkward for your credibility. Your call.

    Let me explain:
    Asserting someone’s inability to form an argument is nothing to do with the argument at hand per se. Unless you can demonstrate that an argument had been formed, it’s a simple statement, supported by the contemporary and subsequent evidence. See your last sentence there?

    Name-calling by itself is not ad hominem. I repeat not. Unless related to the argument at hand. You have made that mistake a couple of times. It’s a rhetorical device. In fact it wasn’t considered a fallacy until the late 19th century. Oh how philosophy changes.

    Example – If I say “You’re a creative so you can’t hope to argue coherently about logical fallacies?” I’m challenging the validity of your argument based on you, not any argument. If I say “You don’t seem to understand logical fallacies you twerp.” then that isn’t. One is ad hominem and insulting. The other a mildly acerbic statement.

    Quoting your own website is a piss-takingly silly. You should be quoting an independent source to support your point.

    Your original point was squirming around: that Maccas sponsoring the Olympics – an athletic event – is “insidiously” positioning themselves as healthy. My reductio ad absurdum argument (not a strawman) was taking that to the logical extreme – that consumers would not believe from the sponsorship that athletes (the expression of Olympic health) dine at McDonald’s daily (endorsement). And so highlights your imperfect syllogism. This is modus tollens argumentative approach and not logical fallacy.

    If I misunderstood your point, then do let me know and I’ll shred that instead.

    There’s more about the rich background of reductio ad absurdum here.

    Your definition of loaded question is closer to the self-incriminating question defence in law. This isn’t Law & Order, this is about loaded language in the question – notably: insidious; tokenistic; smoke and mirrors. Are you suggesting they aren’t loaded language? Can the core assertion be responded to without wading through that unsupported tripe?

    You’re right, that asserting opinions isn’t a circular argument. But a string of “begging questions” with no support is. I realise that isn’t the definition on your site, but that’s moot, my friend. Your argument boils down to: “They plan to appear healthy (by sponsorship), because to appear healthy is their plan (their mysterious strategy).” See? And it’s unsupported bullshit. Sorry.

    Equivalency may not have been intended, though your choice suggests otherwise. It was indeed noted. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t therefore happen. Deliberately or otherwise. It’s like saying “I don’t mean to swear, but you’re a cunt.” You may claim not to, but you certainly do.

    Your penultimate paragraph is pure hilarity. Mixed with some accidental (?) pomposity. “I told you I ran the site so you might think what I wrote on it was right before telling me I’m wrong.” is the essence, yes?

    Bless. You’re no Knightsbridge, are you.

  87. AdGrunt
    13 Jul 12
    8:21 pm

  88. @Carrot Eater

    I’m flattered, but you really are stringing a load of assumptions together.

    I’m sorry.

  89. Jesse
    14 Jul 12
    12:34 am

  90. @AdGrunt Oh, I’m not concerned for my credibility. I learned a long time ago that being wrong about something is a good thing if you can recognise it, and so my imperative is to attempt to find out how and why I’m wrong about things; as opposed to mindlessly attempting to justify to myself and others why I’m right, why nothing is wrong with any of my arguments, everything my opponents say is false, and failing to ever concede a point or recognise a shortcoming of my own position. To do so would likely result in becoming merely bitter, angry and acerbic, and one’s conversations would likely devolve into puerile contemptuous and contemptible name-calling and nastiness. And who wants that?

    For example and exposition, I recognise that I was completely wrong about ad hominems. I was careful to cross reference and check probably every other fallacy on the site, but as ad homs are so basic a fallacy, I don’t think I even bothered. In doing some research just now, it seems this is a common mistake, from wikipedia “…whereas mere verbal abuse in the absence of an argument is not ad hominem nor any kind of logical fallacy.”. It’s still an unnecessary and rude way to go about things, but you were absolutely right that as you didn’t use your attack to directly attempt to undermine an argument, it was simply an attack, not a fallacy (I’ll change the website to more clearly expose this difference in the next round of changes).

    You’re also quite right that I should likely have linked to an external source, which I’ll happily do now:

    When you made your point about athletes eating maccas every day, you weren’t taking a reductio ad absurdum deduction, you were committing the strawman fallacy. The difference can be exposed through the link you provided:

    “Reductio ad absurdum… is a process of refutation on grounds that absurd – and patently untenable consequences would ensue from accepting the item at issue.”

    But the item at issue is not a claim anyone made. Instead it’s an exaggerated and intentionally ‘absurd’ scenario, that YOU constructed, in which a consumer might (read: not) believe that mcdonald’s is the daily dietary choice of olympic athletes. You’re insinuating that I’m insinuating that consumers would believe this, when I made no such claim nor insinuation.

    A loaded question fallacy necessarily requires there to be a question, and specifically one that has a presupposition built into it that is unfairly detrimental to the opponent e.g. have you stopped beating your wife?

    When someone uses adjectives, this is not a loaded question fallacy. So when you say “this is about loaded language in the question – notably: insidious; tokenistic; smoke and mirrors. Are you suggesting they aren’t loaded language?” my answer is no, I’m not suggesting that it isn’t loaded language, but I am very strongly suggesting that it isn’t a loaded question fallacy.

    With regard to the circular argument fallacy 0you have not demonstrated how or where I have committed this fallacy. If you don’t like the definition on my site, try this one:

    As you’ll see, merely stating an unsupported opinion/s is not committing a circular argument fallacy at all. One necessarily needs to have the conclusion included in the premise of an argument, not just fail to back one’s claims up with empirical evidence. Having opinions isn’t fallacious. You’ve then taken an entirely different tack and attempted to construct an argument I didn’t make to show my how my argument that I didn’t make is wrong (strawman, again).

    My argument boils down to: I think McDonalds’ strategy is to appear healthy because they’ve introduced salad items, sponsored sporting teams, and made their art direction and food styling look much more fresh and clean than it used to. I think this strategy is effective though insidious as it creates an ostensible perception of healthiness to help mitigate the truth about their core product offering.

    How you’ve contrived to think that my argument was not this, but was instead ‘McDonald’s plan is to appear healthy because their plan is to appear healthy’ is truly mind-boggling.

    The equivalency issue I suspect we can leave alone.

    After being quite wrong about the ad hominem issue, I can see the humour in my arrogance in presuming to be oh-so-well-versed in all things fallacious. Humility is a life long lesson, it would seem.

  91. AdGrunt
    14 Jul 12
    9:31 pm

  92. Jesse,

    AdGrunt is a pseudonymous alter-ego. Mea culpas are lovely, but as AdGrunt ultimately only exists in concept, so they can only ever be for your benefit. But good on you for following the adage “pride before a fall” with some humility.

    Noted on your ad hominem revision. Ad hominems are far from a basic fallacy. They are probably one of the most complicated. See here and here – I broadly hold the traditional view. You might want to note that Tu Quoque and Two Wrongs are variants on ad hominem, on your site.

    And we have a little more to clear up.

    So let’s dissect your position:
    I think McDonalds’ strategy is to appear healthy [] because they’ve introduced salad items [true, but is it causal?], sponsored sporting teams [fact, but is it causal?], and made their art direction and food styling look much more fresh and clean than it used to [rather subjective, let’s gloss over].

    So here you’re saying:

    “McDonald’s strategy is to appear healthy…via healthy food, sponsorship, questionable creative critique.”

    You have stated a conclusion, but not demonstrated that the premises support it. That is, I’m afraid, begging the question. Not in the traditional order, but an abstract “begging the question” nevertheless. Keep reading down the link you quote, or have a look at mine above, or indeed Wikipedia if you must to confirm this.

    Next up…

    I think this strategy is effective [steady on tiger, you haven’t proven this strategy exists yet] though insidious [ouch – that’s a little bit tin-foil hat and since you haven’t proven it exists, calling it insidious seems a bit loaded] as it creates an ostensible perception of healthiness [well you would say that as you said it just before] to help mitigate the truth [that being what truth, and according to who? truth is a very subjective thing] about their core product offering [demonstrably food, yes?].

    So you’re saying here:

    “This strategy (that you haven’t substantiated, so still begging the question) creates an effective perception of healthiness around their food.”

    Now have a look above. That’s the unsupported consequence of what you said before. I’m not boggling minds, just reading your words. And so the Circular Reasoning is complete. Begging the question multiple times = Circular question, broadly.

    Really, it does. I could claim a formal logical fallacy here too, but it’d get ugly.

    Now to clear up your other little confusions:

    A loaded question is about using false premises. It should more accurately be called a loaded, or prejudicial language fallacy. This is critical to understanding it. It doesn’t have to be a question to be prejudicial. The adjectives are prejudicial and culminate in the extremely prejudicial phrase “smoke and mirrors” as a conclusion. This is key to the loaded language fallacy.

    For example, referring to those on boats from Indonesia as Illegal Immigrants is a loaded language / question fallacy. As their illegality is unproven until they are granted, or denied, asylum. Hence the correct term asylum seekers. No question was asked there.

    My other trill was a reductio ad absurdum, but it seems moot to explain why in detail now. If you want me too, I will.

    Looks like your next round of amends is going to be large. 😉

    Seriously, those links up there are the best help I can give you to make your truly nice site, more accurate. Also consider explaining how logical fallacies sit within the whole rhetorical framework and the fluidity, nuances and complexity of philosophical discourse.

    Anything else I can help with?

    ps – Do watch “The Men Who Made Us Fat”

    pps – I hope Tim Crane doesn’t frequent this forum…

  93. AdGrunt
    14 Jul 12
    9:46 pm

  94. For reasons I don’t know – there are some bits missing after “appear healthy” – that’s to show you’re starting with the conclusion. Not bad, just to be noted later.

  95. Anonymous
    26 Jul 12
    10:12 am

  96. Kate
    30 Jul 12
    12:45 pm

  97. Wow – you bunch must not be busy considering the length of diatribe written here!

  98. Tom
    31 Jul 12
    7:30 am

  99. A few pb’s for wordy responses here but Jesse its gold gold gold for you

  100. Anonymous
    1 Aug 12
    9:13 am

  101. Meh, if Maccas wants to sponsor the bloody obesity council, I couldn’t care less. Money is money – keep in mind a lot of these events wouldn’t even exist (or at least not to such scale) without their sponsors.

    At the end of the day, I don’t see the need for such justification/recrimination. Good god people, it’s just advertising! We’re not talking about curing cancer or promoting democracy here. Just a bunch of pics and words nobody pays much attention to anyway.

    End of the day, just do your job and get your paycheque…