A plastic Ronald McDonald figure was kidnapped from a Finnish McDonald’s on January 31st. After that, a group calling itself the Food Liberation Army, demanded answers to a series of questions from the McDonalds management. If the questions were not answered, the group threatened to “execute” Ronald McDonald. Members of the Food Liberation Army were then arrested and the Ronald statue reclaimed. Not to be daunted, and after McDonald’s execs refused to entertain the stunt, a homemade Ronald statue was “beheaded.” Seriously?
Perhaps most disturbing is that this execution was carried out by men donning black full-face masks, with a faux arabic sign in the background, and the Ronald McDonald figure in the foreground with a black bag over his head. Two words that should never be used in the same sentence are parody and Al Qaeda, yet that’s exactly what the Food Liberation Army has done. But has the beheading of a Ronald McDonald figure done anything to promote a healthier or more sustainable McDonalds?
In a word, no. Not only was the prank ill-conceived, but the parody of Al Qaeda and terrorist techniques was in extremely poor taste. What could have been a light-hearted, or even funny, prank bringing attention to food quality and sustainability, took a turn for the sinister by referencing terrorists and issuing poorly conceived demands. Some of the questions the Food Liberation Army wanted answers to were:
Why are you not open about the manufacturing processes, raw materials and additives used in your products? What are you afraid [of]?
How many tons of un-recycled waste [do] you produce per year? Why do you not publish that figure?
Such questions do have a place in the global conversation about food, but clearly the Food Liberation Army leaves a lot to be desired in technique. I’m glad that we are having a global conversation about the food we eat and where it comes from, but this is certainly not the way to promote real change.