* McDonald's faces lawsuit over Happy Meal advertising
* Suit would force change in ad buys-McDonald's lawyer
SAN FRANCISCO, July 15 Advertising costs for
McDonald's Corp would be heightened if a California lawsuit
over its Happy Meal toy promotions proved successful, a lawyer
for the company said in court.
McDonald's (MCD.N) is accused of unfairly using toys to
lure children into its restaurants, and a proposed class action
lawsuit seeks to stop the company from advertising toys in
connection with Happy Meals in California.
The Happy Meal, which packages children's meals with toys,
has been a huge hit for McDonald's -- making the company one of
the world's largest toy distributors and spawning me-too
offerings at most other fast-food chains.
McDonald's use of Happy Meal toys has come under fire from
public health officials, parents and lawmakers who are
frustrated with rising childhood obesity rates and weak
anti-obesity efforts from restaurant operators, which are
At a hearing on Friday in a San Francisco federal court,
McDonald's attorney Scott Elder said an injunction against
advertising Happy Meal toys in California would make the chain
unable to purchase ads on a national basis.
Buying ads nationally is "a lot cheaper," Elder said.
McDonald's is asking that the case be litigated in the
federal courts, which are generally viewed by corporate
defendants as friendlier than state courts. In order to
succeed, McDonald's has to prove the lawsuit involves potential
costs of over $5 million.
An attorney for the plaintiff, Stephen Gardner, argued that
food chains frequently change marketing practices, and that the
case should be returned to a California state court.
U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney did not say whether she
would grant the McDonald's request.
The proposed class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court,
Northern District of California, is Parham v. McDonald's
Corporation et al, 11-511.
(Reporting by Dan Levine, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)