PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: McDonald's defines media opportunity

CHICAGO: What's in a McName? A big dollop of controversy, if you're the image-keeper of the Golden Arches.

CHICAGO: What's in a McName? A big dollop of controversy, if you're the image-keeper of the Golden Arches.

McDonald's chairman and CEO Jim Cantalupo sent an open letter to the press last week complaining about the inclusion of the pseudo-word "McJobs" in the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Seems flipping burgers for Ronald has become a synonym for "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement." Cantalupo defended McD's workers by declaring that the definition "is not only an inaccurate description of restaurant employment, it's also a slap in the face to the 12 million men and women who work hard every day in America's 900,000 restaurants." Since McDonald's has so few chances to tout the wondrous career options available in our fast-food nation, we applaud it for cleverly maximizing even the slimmest opportunity. But those stubborn Merriam-Webster folks, always happy for a little press themselves, weren't buying it. They issued a statement of their own, declaring, "(F)or more than 17 years, 'McJob' has been used as we are defining it in a broad range of publications, including The New York Times, US News & World Report, Publishers Weekly, Rolling Stone, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, Ms., Harper's, The New Republic, Utne Reader, The Vancouver Sun." That's right. Once again, blame it on the media. Since McJob is also listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary, and Webster's Dictionary, it makes you wonder why all the fuss over Merriam-Webster. But the media attention doesn't seem to have harmed either the dictionary maker or the morale of McDonald's hard-working employees. So as far as the free publicity goes, we imagine they're lovin' it.

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