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Thursday, 20 December, 2001, 11:09 GMT
McDonald's takes on Asterix
Asterix takes over from Ronald McDonald
Asterix takes over from Ronald McDonald
Fast-food giant McDonald's has signed up cartoon star Asterix the Gaul in its latest marketing campaign in France.

The tiny warrior will replace Ronald McDonald in its adverts at the end of January, reports The Times newspaper in London.

The move ties in with the release of the movie Asterix and Cleopatra and the company will be hoping to appease anti-American feeling which has dogged McDonald's in France.

Farmer José Bové led protest against McDonald's
Farmer José Bové led protest against McDonald's

In August 1999 a French farmer, José Bové, led an attack on a McDonald's restaurant under construction in Millau, southern France.

He became a figurehead for anti-globalisation activists in France and abroad.

After hearing of the Asterix tie-up with the American food giant, French magazine Télérama is quoted as saying: "The bad food giant has taken over the indomitable Gaul.

"By capturing our very heritage, McDonald's has achieved a striking revenge over Bové."

National favourite

A survey in February revealed that Asterix was the favourite cartoon character of 53% of French people.

The first Asterix book, Asterix the Gaul, was published in 1961, two years after the character appeared as a strip in the weekly comic Pilote.

About 300 million Asterix books have been sold since. The 31 adventures have been translated into 80 languages, including regional dialects.

One of the cartoon's creators, René Goscinny, died in 1977, but is still credited on the book covers.

McDonald's has more than 121 restaurants around the world
McDonald's has restaurants in more than 121 countries around the world

McDonald's has reported three straight quarters of falling profits, as consumers have been scared by food-safety fears, especially in Europe.

The company's image has also suffered at the hands of the anti-globalisation movement, and it has been hit in the US by allegations of declining service quality.

McDonald's, for many years one of the fastest-growing large companies in the world, was recently forced to start closing restaurants in its international operations.

The chain has restaurants in more than 121 countries around the world.

See also:

20 Jun 01 | Arts
Asterix conquers the Russians
22 Mar 01 | Europe
Bove loses McDonald's raid appeal
22 Mar 01 | Reviews
Asterix acts up
15 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Asterix punches his way back
14 Mar 01 | Europe
Asterix back in the bookshops
04 Feb 99 | Entertainment
The magic runs out for Asterix
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