OAK BROOK, Ill. - The new ad campaign for McDonaldï¿½ï¿½s Happy Meals focuses on nutrition and exercise instead of French fries and hamburgers. "For the first time, 100 percent of our national marketing efforts to kids [under 12] will include nutrition or active lifestyle messages," Neil Golden, chief marketing officer of McDonaldï¿½ï¿½s USA told AdWeek.
The revamped ads are part of the commitment McDonaldï¿½ï¿½s and 15 other companies (which together encompass 80% of childrenï¿½ï¿½s advertising) made as part of the Better Business Bureauï¿½ï¿½s Childrenï¿½ï¿½s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (Cfbai) last year. The voluntary regulation tries to stem any government involvement in crafting rules for marketing food to children.
Starting now until Dec. 31, 2013, the companies will launch new products and marketing strategies within the guidelines. For example, Campbellï¿½ï¿½s new Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Bread fits within the nutritional rules, and so does Kraft Foodsï¿½ï¿½ Lunchables with Fruit. Nestle has pulled the plug in promotion Juicy Juice Sparkling Fruit Juice Beverage to kids. Hershey, Mars and Coca-Cola do no childrenï¿½ï¿½s advertising at all.
"There is a lot of good development; itï¿½ï¿½s all about steady improvements," says Elaine Kolish, Cfbai vice president and director.
"The Cfbai is Exhibit 1 of how the industry has moved forward to enhance the guidelines to respond to concerns ï¿½" thatï¿½ï¿½s what self-regulation is about," said Lee Peeler, president and CEO of the National Advertising Review Council. "There are always going to be folks criticizing, so the trick is to make sure [kidsï¿½ï¿½ advertising] is being done responsibly."
Late last year, Congress asked for more analysis of marketing campaigns that seek to restrict food marketing to kids. In the fall, a working group reversed its earlier proposal to provide voluntary guidelines for food marketing to children.