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MANHATTAN, NY (CAP) - An already disastrous ad campaign by fast food giant McDonald's restaurant chain got worse yesterday when competitor Burger King filed suit in New York District Court for infringement of marketing space.
In a 12-page complaint filed with the court, Burger King charges that McDonald's "...infringed upon the plaintiff's rights to secure primary and exclusive placement of its products with a major media property."
"My client owns the Star Trek franchise in terms of fast food product tie-ins, in both this movie and in two future, to-be-released titles," said lead attorney Joshua Abrams outside the courthouse. "They signed a contract, paid a lot of money, and they'll be damned if some burger-slinging clown is going to piss all over that, pardon my jurisprudence."
Burger King claims that its "Kingons," based heavily on its iconic and royally creepy Burger King character, is being unfairly diluted by McDonald's own attempts to cash in on Star Trek fever with its "Ronmulan" character.
While Burger King has been blanketing the airwaves with Kingons, the Ronmulan commercials, which also bring back the Hamburgler (now Hamborgler) and introduce a new character, the Fryrengi, were pulled shortly after their launch two weeks ago.
"I honestly don't know what they're thinking," said media analyst Sy Zalone. "They obviously jumped the shark in terms of endorsement rights, paying the Russians millions of dollars to secretly blast Ronald into space for a few location shots, and now they're looking at losing millions more to their primary competitor for marketing infringement?
"Poorly played, to say the least," added Zalone.
The move has so damaged the fast food giant that it may be forced to angle for what a few months ago would have seemed unthinkable: a federal bailout.
"Will they get it? Who knows, but I like their chances," Zalone said. "Next week they're planning on launching a new pork sandwich, the Uncle Spam With Cheese, on the very day they'll be appearing on Capitol Hill to discuss their options. Suck up much?"
While McDonald's faces some tough months ahead, industry insiders note that it's not the first time they've seriously misstepped, and they always seem to bounce back.
"Late 70's, sole Star Wars fast food tie-in, the launch of the Wookie Burger," one marketing researcher told CAP News off the record. "Yeah, I think we all remember that one."
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