McDonald’s Takes Heat for Kids’ Marketing

Discussion
Aug 04, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

McDonald’s has been hailed in marketing circles for extending the reach of
its brand through merchandising deals that have its name and logo on everything
from Barbie dolls to cartoons running 24/7 on cable television.

What has helped make McDonald’s a household name has also brought the company
criticism fron nutritionists for unleashing what the New York Times refers to
as "a blitzkrieg that perverts children’s eating habits and sets them on
a path to obesity."

Susan Linn, a psychologist at Harvard’s Judge Baker Children’s Center told
the Times, “What really changed over the last decade is the proliferation of
electronic media. It used to just be Saturday-morning television. Now it’s Nickelodeon,
movies, video games, the Internet and even marketing in schools.”

Moderator’s Comment: Is the criticism of the food industry
misplaced on the obesity issue? Are consumers receptive to messages about better-for-kids
foods or do they simply want a burger and fries when they walk into a fast food
restaurant?

Walter Willett, a professor of nutrition at Harvard told
the New York Times, “The problem of obesity is so staggering, so out of control,
that we have to do something. The vast majority of what they sell is junk. How
often do you see fruits and vegetables marketed?”   Karlin Linhardt, the director
of youth marketing at McDonald’s, responds by saying, “We talk about offering
carrot sticks and we have parents come in and say, ‘We offer them carrot sticks
at home. When we come to McDonald’s we want a treat, French fries.'”

[George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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