Web Takes Big Bite Out of Happy Meals Reboot

The announcement from McDonald's that it is adding apple slices and other kinds of produce to its Happy Meals and reducing the portion of French fries has produced a predictable amount of scorn on the Web. News sites and commenters have responded with sarcasm and skepticism, which McDonald's must have expected.

Yet McDonald's had little choice in reconfiguring its Happy Meals. It was under pressure from advocacy groups to focus more on nutrition, particularly with its products that are marketed at children. McDonald's has also faced some citywide bans on using toys as incentives to sell Happy Meals.

The company's press statement makes it clear that it intends to listen well to criticism of its food products and their effect on childhood obesity. Yes, this reboot of the Happy Meal has gone viral and sets up fast food in general as an easy target for jokes, but it's a classic case of outreach that cannot be bought.

There is no downside for McDonald's, really. From a health perspective, most kids will toss the apples aside, but they'll have fewer French fries to eat. And from a branding perspective, McDonald's has emerged as a company that considers its customers—and obesity advocacy groups—to be stakeholders instead of mere consumers.

Sheila Consaul, director, communication strategies, for technology resource company BRTRC, says the announcement itself and the actual change to Happy Meals is only going to benefit McDonald's, its customers, reputation and sales.

"This change shows McDonald's is listening to the experts—i.e. that they need to do something about the content of Happy Meals in order to positively impact children’s health—while still providing a multitude of choices for parents," says Consaul, who wrote about crisis communications in the latest edition of PR News' Media Training Guidebook. "Choice is really what’s going to drive better eating habits, not necessarily the specific food content of a Happy Meal."

@font-face { font-family: "Cambria"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }a:link, span.MsoHyperlink { color: blue; text-decoration: underline; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: purple; text-decoration: underline; }div.Section1 { page: Section1;

Comments Off

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Social Media Summit with Taste of Tech


Unlike other conferences, you’ll be immersed in the strategies and tactics that you can apply right away to your work as a communicator. You’ll learn what it takes to compete for attention, engagement and positive brand awareness across an array of social media networks.

Use code “150off” at checkout.

Get $50 off PR News' Digital PR & Social Media Guidebook


This guidebook has one essential purpose: helping you maximize your communications effectiveness in the digital world. The articles in this guidebook produced both by the PR News staff and more than fifty communications industry thought leaders, focus on most every facet of digital PR and social media.

Use code “DIGITAL6” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription

Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.