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The Time Paul McCartney Battled McDonald’s

Paul McCartney and Ronald McDonald
Larry Busacca / Ben Horton, Getty Images

McDonald’s is famous for touting the billions and billions of customers who have passed through the golden arches, but on Oct. 8, 2008, the fast food empire found itself being served — with some nasty words from former Beatle and famous vegetarian Paul McCartney.

The public spat started when McCartney discovered that a McDonald’s in his hometown of Liverpool, England had dedicated some wall space to a picture of him standing alongside former bandmates John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. Although it’s easy to understand how it happened — as a spokesperson for the restaurant later put it, they were merely trying to “acknowledge the outstanding contribution the Beatles made to both local and global culture” — McCartney didn’t appreciate the implied connection.

“What sort of morons do McDonald’s think Beatles fans are?” asked McCartney’s spokesman, Geoff Baker. “It’s ridiculous and insulting to use images to peddle hamburgers. Fans should boycott McDonald’s, and not just in Liverpool.”

This wasn’t the first time McCartney had publicly taken McDonald’s to task. In 2002, he publicly called for the restaurant to adopt stricter animal welfare standards across its global supply chain. And although the company was slow to respond to McCartney’s complaints, he eventually got his way. After 18 months of trying to get his picture taken down, managers at the Liverpool McDonald’s finally complied with his request in July 2010.

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