Australian Parents Protest McDonald's Happy Meal Books

In Australia, an advocacy group is up in arms over McDonald’s’ latest Happy Meal promotion: books.

The Parents’ Jury, a group, “interested in improving the food and physical activity environments of Australian children,” is speaking out against the fast food restaurant’s eight-week promotion, which gives kids paperback books and e-books instead of toys, according to the Herald Sun.

Here’s their beef: “To collect all 10 books and 16 digital readers, children would need to consume 23 Happy Meals in an eight-week period. That’s a lot of fast food in just two months and is certainly not recommended for healthy eating,” Alice Pryor, the group’s campaign manager, tells the Herald Sun.

A McDonald’s spokesperson shot back with a response to The Parents’ Jury’s complaints, the Daily Mail reports, saying, “To say parents are likely to take their kids to McDonald’s 23 times in eight weeks is just ridiculous,” and adds the reality is that parents take their kids one to two times per month. “Like all of our Happy Meal toys, the books are also available for purchase for $2 for parents who would like to buy them independently of a Happy Meal.”

McDonald’s also pointed out their offerings of healthy options, like low-fat milk and apple slices – options the spokesperson notes are, “in compliance with nutrition criteria set by external dietitians.”

Metro Parent readers, do you remember when Beanie Babies were huge in the ’90s? I remember McDonald’s jumping on board and giving away miniature versions of Beanie Babies in Happy Meals. I, like many kids who grew up in that decade I’m sure, couldn’t wait to get McDonald’s to see which Teenie Beanie I got. And McDonald’s isn’t the sole offender here. I also happen to remember other fast food joints having attractive toys and giveaways.

My point is this: this tactic is nothing new. Over the years, long before 2015, McDonald’s and other fast food places have had plenty of other toys in kids’ meals that are meant to spark the drive to come back, eat the food and collect the toy. How is giving away books any different than all the other Happy Meal promotions?

No matter what item you put in a kids’ meal, kids are going to want them – and that’s the whole point. Making a stink about the books makes sense, but only if in turn parents protest the entire marketing approach of giving away toys that encourage parents to bring their children back for more.

Next, maybe we tackle the reasons McDonald’s and other fast foods are addictive and keep you hooked. That has nothing to do with the cool toys.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this promotion is wrong? Leave us a comment in the comments sections.

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