PR and Happy Meals

Last weekend we took a family roadtrip to Philly to attend a relative’s 90th birthday party (the guy bowls every week, and I’m not talking Wii). After walking around the waterfront Saturday afternoon, in 102-degree heat, we were anxious to get back to our air-conditioned hotel room. But we had to stop somewhere for dinner. Selfish me, I was looking forward to sampling some local cuisine. But with kids ages 9 and 6 in tow, naturally we chose the easiest (and unhealthiest) way to go: the McDonald’s directly across from the hotel. OK, so here’s the PR part: McDonald’s is touting Happy Meals as a healthy food choice for kids. And cereal makers have designated sugar-packed products like Lucky Charms, Froot Loops and Cocoa Pebbles as healthy choices. Last week’s NY Times article tells how they’re able to do this. The PR machines of McDonald’s, Kelloggs and others are saying—with straight faces—that fat- and sugar-laden products really are healthy choices. I believe this does nothing to enhance PR’s reputation. What do you think?

That said, the Dollar Menu is a godsend.

–Scott Van Camp

  • Krista

    Take it from a Philly resident who is familiar with its local cuisine- McDonald’s probably wasn’t the worst choice you could have made for your family!

    As far as McD’s and Kellogg’s trying to position their products as healthy choices, I think it’s an attempt to reframe their reputation as a contributor to the increase of child obesity. When the finger is pointed at any company for a fault, the natural progression from a PR standpoint is to look at the alternatives and methods to reframe the conversation. Look at BP replacing their CEO who was highly identified with the oil spill.

    In reality, parents are the only ones looking at the health content of these products. The new messaging simply caters to that audience while the flashy cartoons and toy prizes speak to the other audience (i.e. their kids) that will nag their parents to buy the sugar-filled products for them.