The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group out of Washington, DC, has threatened to file suit against McDonald's, alleging the fast food chain is "unfairly and deceptively" targeting children by including a free toy with each Happy Meal. The executive director of the CSPI, Michael Jacobson, likened McDonald's Happy Meal business model to that of a door-to-door salesman who calls on the family everyday and asks to speak privately with the children. Not surprisingly, some consider the Center for Science in the Public Interest an extremist group.
This is not the first time the CSPI has targeted the popular fast-food franchise: In 2004, the group took-out a full-page ad in the New York Times, urging McDonald's and other American chain restaurants to switch to trans-free cooking oils. Though the ad mentions several restaurants, the headline reads, "A Broken McPromise." The flagrant ad shows a heart attack victim receiving CPR. In 2009, CSPI filed a class-action suit against Coca-Cola for making fraudulent claims regarding Vitaminwater, a "health" drink.
It is important to note that the Center for Science in the Public Interest is, despite the name, not a scientific organization. The organization's ostentatious ad campaigns, controversial statements, and numerous lawsuits, have lead many - as noted above - to question the group's tactics, integrity, and actual agenda. But the CSPI insists it is only trying to cast a light on these large corporations' brazen sales and marketing tactics.
© C Harris Lynn, 2010