Well, it’s time for another rant about commercials sending the wrong messages to kids and adults as well. I received more comments on my post about the Bush’s Baked Beans commercial than any other, so I know there’s an audience out there interested in sending messages back to these companies to please reconsider their marketing approach.
The target of my tirade today is McDonald’s. A little girl is down about picture day at school and looks sad when her father picks her up. How does dad cheer her up? With a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Now, I am all in favor of special treats now and then. The issue I have with this ad is the idea conveyed to parents that the way to console children is through fast food. The risk is that this concept easily becomes ingrained as kids grow into adults. The association between comfort and high-fat/high-salt food is incredibly hard to break.
Free enterprise is great, but companies can be socially responsible and profitable at the same time. What is particularly interesting in this case is that the company clearly does demonstrate a caring side. Ronald McDonald House is a well-known charity, extending to over 60 countries and regions around the world, according to their website. I know the menu has expanded to some healthier food items and the commercial did indicate there was an orange on the side, but something tells me there was no salad in that bag.
The fact that a Happy Meal even includes the term meal is absurd. It’s fun food, party food and a special treat if you like, but a well-balanced meal it is not. Just my opinion.