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McDonald's questions Golden Arches

McDonald's ubiquitous "Golden Arches" will be absent from UK ads.
McDonald's Corporation
Great Britain
Leo Burnett

LONDON, England -- McDonald's is dropping the iconic "Golden Arches" logo from its advertising in Britain for the first time, the company has announced.

The famous symbol will be replaced with a gold question mark in a poster campaign due to begin this week.

The new adverts are part of attempts by McDonald's to ditch its unhealthy "junk food" image and promote alternative products.

Posters will include close-up photographs of fresh salad, fruit pieces and a bagel smothered in cream cheese.

Below the gold question mark, the advertisements read: "McDonald's. But not as you know it."

The chain also intends to drive home its new image by sending booklets to 17 million British households.

The booklet contains details about the menu changes it has made and special offers.

Last month McDonald's saw profits at its 770 company-owned UK restaurants fall by 71 percent to .23.6 million in 2003.

The company said the slump in profits followed an accountancy-based restructuring involving its UK businesses.

The chain has been in the spotlight in recent weeks due to the launch of the film "Super Size Me," which shows director Morgan Spurlock living on a diet of McDonald's food for a month.

It introduced a healthy Happy Meal in the UK this summer, containing a salad, drink and Stepometer -- a small device that clips on a belt and counts the number of steps taken.

Criticism from health campaigners about Britain's growing obesity problem has also led the chain to make changes to its hugely popular Happy Meals for children.

John Hawkes, marketing director for McDonald's UK, said: "The changes are big and bold, and so the 'Change' launch campaign is big and bold. But that's the idea -- great tempting food that is surprisingly from McDonald's."

The new campaign has been created by advertising agency Leo Burnett.

Paul Lawson, group communications director at Leo Burnett, told the UK's Press Association: "The fact that McDonald's is brave enough to even contemplate a creative idea that doesn't carry the famous Golden Arches is testament to their ongoing commitment to shaking up perceptions of the brand in the UK."

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