In a television advert that could kill your appetite, an overweight, middle-aged man is seen lying dead in a morgue holding a half-eaten hamburger as a woman weeps over the linen-clad body.
McDonald's ubiquitous golden arches then trace the dead man's feet with the text "I was lovin' it," a stinging pun on the fast-food chain's long-running slogan "I'm lovin' it."
AdvertisementA voiceover says, "high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian."
Produced by Washington-based health lobby Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), the commercial is set to be aired in Washington DC during the popular The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Thursday.
PCRM says it is also considering running it in Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Los Angeles
The ad "takes aim at McDonald's high-fat menu, with the goal of drawing Washingtonians' attention to the city's high rates of heart disease deaths and its high density of fast-food restaurants," PCRM said in a statement.
Studies show that people who consume fast food are at a higher risk for obesity, a factor contributing to heart disease, it said.
But the ad enraged McDonald's.
"This commercial is outrageous, misleading and unfair to all consumers. McDonald's trusts our customers to put such outlandish propaganda in perspective, and to make food and lifestyle choices that are right for them," spokeswoman Bridget Coffing said.
PCRM said its survey showed that Washington has more McDonald's, Burger King, and KFC outlets per square mile than eight other cities with similar population sizes.
McDonald's, the world's largest restaurant chain, has nevertheless seen its earnings grow in recent months despite the global economic crunch, as it has wheeled out a range of alternatives to its famous burgers.
On Friday, the chain reported its same-store sales for August were up 4.9 per cent globally year-on-year.