Saturday, March 12, 2005

McDonald's healthy eating ads called "an odd fit"

Here's the Chicago Sun-Times:

A lot of suits in the executive suite at McDonald's world headquarters must be lying awake long into the night wondering how to deal with the healthy eating and obesity issues that collectively have been a large thorn in the side of McDonald's.

How else to explain the oddly timed launch of a massive global ad campaign aimed at kids, and designed to underscore McDonald's purported commitment to healthier eating and exercise? The new ads come a month before McDonald's celebrates its 50th birthday, also an occasion, one suspects, for a major advertising splash....

If nothing else, the initial six commercials, tied to the awkwardly stated, difficult to fathom theme -- "It's what I eat and what I do ... I'm lovin' it" -- suggest McDonald's is pushing too hard to position itself as a health-conscious company, a claim that comes off a bit disingenuous.

If you doubt that last editorial comment, you may be interested in this easy-to-use fast food nutrition information data base, which I recently noticed on the Washington Post website. Try it yourself.

My family stopped off at a McDonald's while traveling late by car a week ago -- perhaps the fourth time my two- and four-year-olds had eaten there. You should have seen their delight in seeing a life-sized statue of Ronald McDonald. They immediately left my hands and walked over to stare beatifically into his face. Three thoughts: 1) Thanks, McDonald's, for the inexpensive and palatable junk food on a harried night when it was just what we needed; and 2) thanks for your completely immobile clown's surprisingly potent moment of entertainment; but 3) it makes me more sure than ever that your clown's nutrition talks in schools are really about selling cheeseburgers. I can't believe any school officials anywhere are falling for this.

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