01 February 2007

Comet McNugget: A lost marketing opportunity?

Given both its aggressive stance towards anyone or anything else using the prefix "Mc", and its knack for spotting an opportunity, it's perhaps surprising that McDonalds let recent astronomical events slip by without acknowledgment or intervention.

Comet McNaught put on an unexpectedly impressive show last week (you can see some pictures here), far more spectacular than the much-anticipated but underwhelming Halley's Comet in 1986.

A number of courses of action might have been open to the folks from the Golden Arches. For example, they could have sought a licensing deal to produce a "McNaught McNuggets" Happy Meal, with astronomical facts on the box and a toy comet (a lump of ice?). They might even have tried to buy the naming rights to the comet from the Australian astronomer who discovered it last August (you can read the story of it here).

But perhaps more true to form would have been legal action to try to restrict use of the "Mc" (leaving it as "Comet Naught"?), as McDonalds has taken against a number of other traders, viz. its current ham(burger)-fisted efforts in Victoria (see today's Herald-Sun), and even beyond food service markets (e.g. "McBrat" in clothing).

Action over the name of the comet would have raised an interesting legal question: just how far into the solar system do McDonalds' IP rights in "Mc" and "Mac" extend?

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