Marketing: McDo has such Gaul

Asterix in an ad has the French upset, but they should do their homework.

Before shouting ‘ quelle horreur‘ and heading straight for the barricades, French comic lovers should try getting their facts straight. The latest scandale to rock Paris is over a billboard featuring the popular cartoon hero Asterix the Gaul feasting on McDonald’s fare after a hard day of fighting the Roman legions.

Designed by Euro RSCG, the ad is one of three in the restaurant’s current ‘Come as you are’ campaign in France. The others feature the Ghostface from the Scream movies enjoying a Big Mac, and Cinderella hitting a drive-through riding a pumpkin. Asterix’s publisher supports the campaign, but angry nationalists claim French culture has been sacrificed to American consumerism.

The French like to give the fast-food chain a hard time. In 1999, a farmer — sporting a walrus moustache that drew comparisons to Asterix’s considerable nose hair — became a hero after attacking a McDonald’s outlet. Last year, the company came under fire for opening a restaurant at the Louvre.

The outrage is misplaced. After all, when the French surrender to the call of the golden arches, they drop about US$15 on average, more than three times what American customers typically spend. And for the record, Asterix sold out in 2001, when he filled in for Ronald McDonald in a previous ad campaign.