Jewish World Review March 12, 2003 / 8 Adar II, 5763

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

Yet another example of why Great Britain will never again be a superpower | In yet another example of why Great Britain will never again be a superpower, a watchdog group has pulled a McDonald's TV commercial because it was misleading.

The commercial was advertising a new McDonald's sandwich called the Steak Premiere, which the giant restaurant chain described as "steak in ciabatta with chargrilled peppers, onions and black-pepper mayo."

The obvious question here is: Why are we still gagging down the same dreary, gummy Big Macs when the Brits are tucking in to a gourmet feast of peppers, onions, black-pepper mayo and steak on -- what's it called again? -- right, ciabatta?

Apparently, the Steak Premiere is a temporary McDonald's menu item in Great Britain intended to appeal to the "upscale" market. (You might want to save this column because this could be the first time that the words "McDonald's" and "upscale" have appeared in the same sentence.)

But the Steak Premiere ran into trouble not because nobody knew what ciabatta was (it's a kind of Italian bread) but because -- and this is the part that's going to shock you -- the TV commercial made the sandwich look yummier than it actually was.

That's right; according to Britain's Independent Television Group, the Steak Premiere did not have as much steak, onions, peppers, etc. as it appeared to have in the commercial. The ITG then pulled the ad on the grounds that it was misleading.

All of which makes one wonder what would happen if we had a watchdog group like the ITG in America. My initial guess is that if all misleading commercials were pulled from American TV, there would be no more commercials, which would mean there would be no more prime-time programs like "Married by America" or "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!", which would mean people's IQs would jump overnight a minimum of 20 points, which would mean that people would start reading books and talking to one another, which would basically lead to the demise of society as we know it.

In America, we consider the term "misleading commercial" a redundancy and nothing to get excited about. We enjoy watching commercials that show an SUV clambering up the sheer face of a mesa or flattening a stand of redwoods even if the most adventurous thing we will use the vehicle for is ferrying the kids to and from soccer practice. We are captivated by commercials that suggest we can obtain rock-hard abs simply by sending mild electric shocks to our midsection while we lounge in front of the TV porking out on bean dip and Twinkies. And we are certain that a free CD will teach us everything we need to know about operating a computer even though previous experience suggests that we have trouble working an electric can opener.

So, no, America does not need an agency that would pull a McDonald's ad simply because the sandwich in question more closely resembles a soggy gray wad of Kleenex than it does the mouth-watering picture on the menu.

After all, if it weren't for dreams who could tolerate reality?

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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