For decades, McDonald’s has profited at a staggering rate yet at the cost our children’s health. Their strategy has been to spend an enormous advertising budget to market junk food to kids. Today, I’m joining mothers around the world are uniting for this Mother’s Day to say we’re not “lovin’ it” and want CEO Don Thompson to stop marketing to kids.
McDonald’s spent about $115 million advertising Happy Meals alone in 2010. Parents who try to make healthy choices for their kids can easily be overwhelmed at the sheer volume of deceptive advertising from these junk food ads. Kids who see the commercials don’t understand the difference between fact and fiction. To them, commercials are the truth. For example, my 8-year-old son saw a commercial about a popular brand of sugary cereal that promoted its brand was “a part of a balanced breakfast.” My son asked me about it, and I had to explain that it wasn’t true. The ad was a lie. He was shocked and couldn’t believe companies could lie to kids.
And schools aren’t a safe zone either. School districts can get $1,000 for allowing Ronald McDonald to pitch health and wellness to kids. In fact, McDonald’s has done everything from sponsor this year’s Washington state PTA convention and promote McTeacher Nights to promote its brand to teachers, parents and kids.
McDonald’s has historically used cross-promotions with kids’ shows and movies like “The Croods” and Happy Meal toys to create a connection for kids between the shows they love and the McDonalds brand. I mean, how many kids have wanted to get a Happy Meal just for the sake of getting the toy that comes in each box? Just 16% percent of them actually choose Happy Meals for the food, yet they still beg parents to take them anyway. And McDonald’s is one of the largest distributors of toys, giving away 1.5 billion toys each year worldwide.
I admit my kids have begged me to take them to McDonald’s because they’ve heard the commercials or see that a toy they want. I always refuse and offer other choices for healthier food instead. And as far as the collective toys – I tell them they can look for alternatives at the store on their own rather than waste money on buying a meal they don’t want to eat anyway.
While I continue to educate my kids on making healthy food choices, it gets really challenging. McDonald’s continues to look for new ways to market to kids – from creating online games such as McWorld and HappyMeal.com to celebrity endorsements to radio ads (McDonald’s actually bought ads on BusRadio, which broadcast to 10,000 school buses and 1 millions students in 24 states before going out of business).
So join me in saying no to McDonald’s. It’s not ok to market junk food to our kids. And let’s encourage all big name corporations to follow suit. Our kids deserve so much better.
For more information, please visit www.MomsNotLovinIt.org.PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.