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French Put Off by Asterix McDonald's Ad

by Kathy Jones on August 21, 2010 at 9:04 PM
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 French Put Off by Asterix McDonald's Ad

French bloggers have been put off by a McDonald's ad featuring Gallic independence symbol Asterix and his merry band of warriors feasting inside one of the US fast food giant's restaurants.

One Internet commentator said the poster, which has sprung up on French streets this week, was "an electric shock" and asked how the authors of the phenomenally successful comic series could have allowed such use of Asterix.

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"I don't know what to say except express my deep disgust," wrote Georges Abitbol on the veilleurs.info website. "If this doesn't cause traffic accidents..."

"Well done Albert Uderzo for sacrificing such a comic book monument to the Roman hordes," wrote Abitbol, referring to the illustrator who created the indomitable characters along with late writer Rene Goscinny over 50 years ago.
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Since then, the comic book adventures of the first century BC warrior have sold 325 million copies -- 200 million of them abroad -- and been translated into 107 languages and dialects.

The 20-year-old Asterix theme park outside Paris rivals the French capital's Disneyland as a tourist draw and a series of hit movies, including both live action and animated capers, have been worldwide hits.

The contentious ad shows the village partying, as is traditional at the end of one of Asterix's and his sidekick Obelix's adventures, inside the restaurant, with the bard Cacophonix tied up at the foot of a tree, also a tradition.

But the illustration studiously avoids showing any of the characters actually eating anything resembling a "Big Mac" and fries -- or wild boar for that matter.

Asterix's publishers, Les Editions Albert Rene, said that they did not want to enter into the debate.

"The message speaks for itself -- come as you are -- and the Gauls are as they are," the publishers said.

"This campaign exists in partnership with McDonald's because the message fits, because it doesn't detract from the characters' values.

"It's just an advertising campaign which is apparently well done as in any case it creates emotion."

Nor is this the first time that Asterix has worked with McDonald's, after the diminutive warrior and the golden arches teamed up to promote the film "Asterix: Mission Cleopatra" in 2001.

In France, McDonald's is seen by many as at the vanguard of perceived US cultural imperialism, with burgers and fries imperilling the fate of the steak frites.

Activist-turned-member of the European parliament, Jose Bove and other militants in 1999 famously "dismantled" a French McDonald's restaurant in order to protest US use of hormone-treated beef.

Bove -- whose own long moustache would not look out of place on a face in an Asterix book -- was jailed for 44 days.

While some Internet commentators have taken the ad as a declaration of war, others sought to put things into perspective.

"This reaction is slightly disproportionate," writes sirkoben, amid a raging debate during the traditionally slow month of August in France.

"As far as I know Asterix only resisted the Roman invader, no? The (Asterix) amusement park is on the same level. It's just selling the image from a comic. It's what makes the characters live."

Source: AFP
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