McDonald's New Campaign for Kids: No Good or No Big Deal?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I don't watch much TV these days, so maybe I've missed it. But it seems like anytime I've seen a recent McDonald's commercial, Ronald McDonald is no where to be found. I remember those commercials as a kid- he was always buddies with the children, handing them some French fries to put a smile on their faces. But for those of you that thought Ronald might be a thing of the past, think again. McDonald's is launching a new series of ads, encouraging kids to interact with him online.

The new campaign features Ronald McDonald having fun playing with kids, while encouraging them to visit his website and download photos and videos (called Ronaldgrams) to share with others. In one commercial that kicked off recently, "a chatty Ronald greets folks on the street and poses with them for photos in an empty picture frame that he's carrying. "You can picture yourself with Ronald at," says an off-screen voice. "Ask parents permission."

Some groups are upset that McDonald's has chosen to market directly to kids. McDonald's contends that he is just a fun example of the brand and never tries to sell kids on the product. To me, it's definitely direct marketing to children. These kinds of commercials give kids the idea that they too can have fun just like Ronald McDonald if they visit their neighborhood McDonald's. Kind of like how Joe the Camel commercials made it seem like it was cool to smoke. (Okay, maybe not quite that extreme, but you get the idea.)

To their credit, McDonald's has improved the quality of their Happy Meals in recent years. There are juice or low-fat milk options instead of soda and kids can get apples with dipping sauce instead of French fries. Personally, I still don't consider McDonald's to be a healthy food option for my kids, which is why we don't eat there. And I think using a happy and fun-loving clown to help sell their product to young people is not the most ethical choice. But that's my personal opinion.

What do you think about McDonald's new marketing campaign? Shame on them, or no big deal?