Media and Advertising News from NYT

Saturday, June 4, 2011

McDonalds' Unethical Stereotype

McDonalds has always been scrutinized for unethical marketing to children, but is there a way that they can turn that stereotype around and make marketing to children a good thing? The issue of marketing fast food to children is that it is almost directly linked to the issue of obesity in children in the United States. Obesity rates in children have skyrocketed in the past 10 years, and activists are calling for a stop in selling toys in children’s meals. San Francisco is one of the cities that has voted to ban toys with fast food means if the meal exceeds a certain amount of calories, fat, and sodium. There are alternatives to bring down the sodium and fat content in Happy Meal’s such as apples instead of fries, and milk instead of soda. Many activists are also trying to get rid of the image of “Ronald McDonald,” but that was overlooked because of the positive image that Ronald McDonald has with the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which helps families in need. Do you think that if McDonalds turned around it’s marketing to children, by marketing healthier foods such as apples and milk, that they could turn around their unethical stereotype? Do you think that children and parents would be more willing to substitute healthier options so that they can receive a toy in their happy meal? Or do you think that this might be a waste of time and the children would choose fries and a soda over a toy?


  1. I think it is a great marketing strategy that McDonalds has started by promoting the charities in their commercials. They are promoting the positive aspects of the company to get away from the negative stereotype. The healthier options are also very beneficial. The company is showing parents that they can be a healthy meal for children and not just a fatty meal. I think that children will still want the toy in their happy meal. The perfect balance would be giving a toy in a healthy happy meal. This way the children are getting a reward for eating the apples and milk. I think promoting the healthier options and charities are a great way for McDonalds to get their image back on track.

  2. I think this is a good way for Mcdonald's to turn there negative stereotype around. If McDonald's has healthier foods (apples instead of fries) then they can't be solely blamed in my opinion. Instead, the blame lies with the parents as they will have final say over what their child eats. In other words, if the healthier option is available as a substitute for the same price, then McDonald's has done enough to provide consumers and the choice is in the hands of the consumers when eating at McDonald's.

  3. I feel as though it is a good idea for McDs to use ads like that. Also it is up to McD to do what they want with their food. If they want to place toys with their healthy food so more people are likely to see it, then so be it. Parents should not be mad about the choices that fast food restaurants make because it is up to them to open their kids up the media. If parents really don not like what their kids are watching then put them in a box and blind fold them.