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No Golden Arches in U.K. ads

LONDON — McDonald's is sending its famous Golden Arches logo on a two-week vacation as the company tries to convince British customers that its menu has shifted from junk food to healthy eating.

The temporary campaign, beginning Friday, will replace the Golden Arches with a yellow question mark and the line, "McDonald's. But not as you know it."

Sales at McDonald's Corp. outlets in Britain fell last year during a time of growing concern over the nation's obesity problem.

The campaign also will display close-up pictures of new choices such as fresh salads, free-range eggs, semi-skim organic milk and fruit. Booklets detailing the new menus also will be sent to 17 million households in Britain.

The ads are meant to show that "the changes are big and bold," said John Hawkes, the fast food giant's British marketing director.

McDonald's also recently announced that it was reducing its portion sizes.

The move in Britain, where McDonald's has operated for 30 years, came after its 770 restaurants have seen mostly stagnant sales.

The new campaign is a "testament to their ongoing commitment to shaking up perceptions of the brand in the U.K.," said Paul Lawson, a director at Leo Burnett, the Chicago-based advertising agency behind it.

But Eugen Beer, creative director of Kaizo, a London-based public relations agency, said using a question mark instead of the famous Golden Arches created a sense of vacuum. "Brands can't leave a vacuum, it's a terrible sign of weakness."

Walt Riker, a spokesman at McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., said the campaign did not reflect a global strategy since local managers make their own decisions about adapting to their markets. He could not say whether this was the first time McDonald's had dropped the Golden Arches.