Antonio Bramante of Quebec is suing McDonald’s for illegally advertising its Happy Meals. As part of a class-action lawsuit, the Canadian dad of three alleges that the popular fast-food chain is breaking strict provincial laws which prevent companies from advertising to children under the age of 13.
The law, which is part of Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act, is one of only a handful of child consumer protection laws in the world. It has three exceptions: marketing in kid’s magazines, promoting an entertainment event or advertising in storefronts, labels, packaging, and displays. Not only that, but there’s a law in Quebec that prohibits companies from advertising unhealthy food to children.
“McDonald’s has a legal obligation to respect that law and they’re not, in Quebec at least,” explains Bramante’s lawyer, Joey Zukran, who believes that the company is not covered by any of the three exceptions. He also notes that anyone who has bought a Happy Meal in Canada since November 2013 can join the lawsuit, even if they’re not a Canadian resident.
According to court documents, Bramante and his kids eat at McDonald’s about once every two weeks at the request of the children, where the dad says he has spent hundreds of dollars on Happy Meals, primarily because of the toys that come with the purchase. He says that McDonald’s directly targets kids by placing the toys, which are often based on popular films or shows, at eye level.
In a statement earlier this week, McDonald’s Canada responded, saying, “We are aware of our obligations under Quebec’s advertising laws and reiterate that we do not believe this class action has merit.” However, Bramante is pushing forward with the suit, seeking both punitive damages as well as compensation from the chain, which has around 300 restaurants in Quebec alone.