The Brazilian Justice Department’s Office of Consumer Defense and Protection (Departamento de Proteção e Defesa do Consumidor – DPDC), imposed a BRL six million fine (US$ 1.6 million) on Arcos Dourados Comércio de Alimentos Ltda (McDonald’s) for abusive publicity aimed at children, due to the production of the “Ronald McDonald Show” inside schools. The case was opened in 2013 after a complaint was filed by the Alana Institute’s Child and Consumerism program.
A study conducted by Child and Consumerism at the time found over 60 performances by the clown, within the span of only two months, inside primary schools and kindergartens in various states throughout the country.
Ekaterine Karageorgiadis, coordinator of the Child and Consumerism program, emphasizes that “this is the highest fine ever imposed in a children’s advertising case. It is essential that children be protected from illegal publicity campaigns, including – and especially – within the schools, a space for development that should not be influenced by brands and products. It is, without doubt, an important victory for childhood in Brazil and we praise the DPDC’s actions in defense of children’s rights.”
History of the case
In 2013, Child and Consumerism notified McDonald’s about the violations in the performances. After receiving no reply from the company, the program filed a complaint to the Office of Consumer Defense and Protection, under the Justice Department’s National Consumer Department, requesting an end to the activities inside schools. In 2016, the office accepted the complaint and began an administrative process. The company has thirty days to pay the fine, which will go towards the Fund for the Defense of Collective Rights. The company may still file an appeal.