Happy Meals are evil. In America they’re going to start serving apples within, but A) they’ll continue exploiting emerging markets and B) it’s not enough.
Every time we drive past McDonald’s, the kid begs to go and insists on at least slowing down to see what toy they have. But he’s a kid. Yesterday I saw him leave an ice cube on the rug, come back and pop it in his mouth. I mean, why, it’s not even food. No one should be marketing to this person.
But McDonalds does market to kids. Everbody on the cartoon networks does. And they market crap. With toys it’s violence for boys and housewifery for girls (see wordclouds). With food it’s all junk. How much advertising did oranges or water or idli do last year? None.
For adults we presume that we can ignore the ads, but kids kinda can’t. They like them, they pay attention and, to a degree, they believe. And Happy Meals are the worst. Not only do they advertise, but kids really like the toys, toys which are bodily endorsed by their favorite cartoon characters. Yet the food they promote is quite bad for them. And expensive. And exasperating for parents. It’s uncool.
So, is the move to add apples enough? Not really.
The move by McDonald’s, which has become a leader in moving from just burgers and fries to more nutritious fare like oatmeal and salads, comes as fast food chains face intense scrutiny from health officials and others who blame the industry for childhood obesity and other health-related problems. Some municipalities, including San Francisco, have even banned fast food restaurants from selling kids’ meals with toys.
Critics wasted no time complaining that McDonald’s changes don’t go far enough. Kelle Louaillier, executive director of a group called Corporate Accountability International, said McDonald’s is just trying to get ahead of impending regulations that will restrict the marketing of junk food to children and require restaurants to post nutrition information on menus, among other changes. (WSJ)
What gets me is that, like cigarette companies, they avoid regulations in the west by pushing stuff on the developing world. After Supersize Me McDonald’s phased out the practice of upping the already big portions. But it still goes on here, and the cashiers (quite well-trained and courteous mind you) still push it aggressively.
So, while McDonald’s may be adding apples to American menus, I don’t see mango slices coming to Sri Lanka anytime soon.