Different Scottish tartans historically belong to individual clans, or families, who in days gone by were typically fiercely competitive with each other, sometimes leading to bloodshed.
Where McDonald's has tripped up is in choosing the tartan belonging to Clan Lindsay, rivals to the Donalds. It has been used for ties, scarves and waistcoats and rolled out to all its 764 U.K. restaurants.
London's daily newspaper the Evening Standard quotes an enraged Godfrey Lord Macdonald, chief of Clan Donald, (who, it says, commands the allegiance of every Donald, Macdonald or McDonald worldwide), complaining of a "complete lack of understanding of the name". He says there are 19 Macdonald tartans the company could have chosen from.
McDonald's is taking it all in its stride. "This isn't to say that in the future we won't use the Macdonald color scheme," says spokesman Stephen Hall. "But this [Lindsay tartan] was exactly what we were looking for." The Lindsay cloth was judged the best complement to staff's existing navy blue trousers and skirts.
McDonald's was, in fact, started in Des Plaines, Illinois, by two brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald - who, the company claims, were of Irish descent and had "no connection with the Scottish clan at all".
Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.