The headline I read in Marketing magazine said the company was going to use its licensed promotional properties only on menu items not high in fat, salt or sugar such as carrots, fruit and organic milk . Marketing director Jill McDonald was quoted as saying that said that "the fast-food company had a major role to play in stimulating positive health choices as part of 'a broader response to the obesity issue'".
Now, I thought this was quite good... it is true that as Mc Donald's are so big that they can have a big impact on how kids eat, either good or bad. Indeed, in a talk given by Larry Light, the ex-CMO, he said that the company was now the biggest seller of salads in the USA.
However, digging a little bit deeper is a bit like eating at Mc Donald's. It seems like a good idea, and the first taste hit is actually quite good...but then you soon start feeling a bit sickly, and have that greasy after-taste in your mouth. An article in the Guardian reports that although the good guys (carrots, milk and fruit) will star in the TV ads, when you get in store the whole Happy Meal is promoted with Shrek, including bad old burgers and fries. Richard Watt from healthy eating campaining group Sustain smells a rat: "My view is using Shrek to promote Happy Meals breaks the spirit of the rules and we will investigate how exactly overall Happy Meals are judged in terms of HFSS (high in fat, salt, sugar) rules."
When I went online to have a peek at the Shrek stuff my queasiness increased. Shrek is indeed used not to promote healthy eating, but the brand as a whole. I felt very naive at having thought they would really be pushing healthier items.
Go even deeper into the site and you find a very impressive online game, which again promotes Mc Donald's in general, not a healthy eating message. Sure, this is part of a section of the site called "Emergy", which encourages kids to be active...which again is a bit 2-faced, when what is more likely is to have kids stuffing down a burger, fries and king-size coke whilst playing a video game!
I'm left feeling that brands like this should either be authentic and honest in promoting a healthier lifestyle, or not bother at all. Doesn't doing it half-heartedly like McShrek create cynicism not engagement?