START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
402,727 people care about Real Food

California Mom Sues McDonalds Over Happy Meals (VIDEO)

California Mom Sues McDonalds Over Happy Meals (VIDEO)

Does McDonalds use the toys in its happy meals as bait to tempt kids into choosing nutritionally poor Happy Meals?

Class Action Lawsuit Against McDonald’s

Monet Parham, a mother of two from Sacramento, CA, thinks so, and on Wednesday, December 15, she filed a class action lawsuit, with the help of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), designed to stop McDonald’s use of toys to market directly to young children. The suit was filed in California Superior Court in San Francisco.

“I am concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald’s should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience,” Parham said. “But as other busy, working moms and dads know, we have to say ‘ no’ to our young children so many times, and McDonald’s makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kids’ heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat.”

San Francisco Ban On Happy Meals

This suit comes on the heels of a decision on November 2 by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to ban toy giveaways in meals that don’t meet nutritional guidelines or that don’t contain any fruits or vegetables – in other words, all McDonald’s Happy Meals as they are presently constituted.

But is Parham’s claim that the company is deliberately targeting young children accurate?

Go After Kids!

From CSPI:

“Go after kids,” is how Roy Bergold, who headed McDonald’s advertising for 29 years as chief creative officer, described the company’s strategy in an article in QSR magazine. “Ray Kroc said that if you had $1 to spend on marketing, spend it on kids. Why? Because they can’t get to your restaurant by themselves and they eat a lot.” Bergold also acknowledged in a separate QSR column that “companies have found that kids are a lot more tempted by the toys than the food.” McDonald’s “gets into the parents’ wallets via the kids’ minds,” according to an online presentation by Martin Lindstrom, who advises McDonald’s on branding and “neuromarketing.”

And Joe Johnston, who was on the advertising-agency team that developed the McDonald’s Fun Meal, which pre-dated the Happy Meal, bluntly explained the centrality of the toy to the meal’s marketing: “Yes, even then, we knew that we needed the toy to make it work.”

Fast-food companies—with McDonald’s by far in the lead—spent over $520 million in 2006 on advertising and toys to market children’s meals. Toy premiums made up almost three-quarters of those expenses, totaling over $350 million.

That seems pretty conclusive evidence that McDonald’s ranks their profit above all else.

Check out the latest McDonald’s video and see what you think:

Read more: , , ,

Creative Commons - Jim, the Photographer

quick poll

vote now!

Loading poll...

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

279 comments

+ add your own
7:13PM PDT on Jul 23, 2011

The solution is simple for some parents----buy the Happy Meals for their kids, take out the toy, toss the Happy Meal in the trash or in the trunk of the car. (After about a week the fries can be dumped behind the tires for traction when caught in mud or snow.)

Poor McDonalds, they are not having a good year. All sorts of lawsuits, bad publicity, and PETA is targeting them for the hideous way their suppliers murder the chickens. See McCruelty.com "I'm not loving it."

6:14AM PST on Mar 9, 2011

OH!!! I am so SICK of people playing the blame game! It's ridiculous! What happened to holding yourself accountable? This country has turned into a nation of whining, finger pointing, adult children. It's a nanny state! No one is FORCING you to turn the TV on and watch these ads. No one is FORCING you to feed your kids crap. People need to get a freaking life!!!!!!!! Oh, it just makes me irate.

8:55PM PST on Mar 1, 2011

What place won't target kids if their able!
I mean that's practically the biggest market out there.
So if it's just because of the toy, you can buy the toy separately, even if you don't buy any food there (we were all kids once and it's like 99.9% about the toy not the food).
So you buy the toy then if your for instance at the mall, go a couple fronts down and get the kid something from some place like subway, or Chinese food, if not then buy them something that's healthier on the menu like a grilled chicken wrap and some apple slices (not as good as a home cooked meal but at least it's not a burger and fries), and if you have the kid that's like 'it's not a happy meal' have the people put it in the happy meal box, I'm sure they'd do it if you ask nice.

12:15PM PST on Feb 28, 2011

They should sell ones with apples and offer healthy chips and how about a organic meat source, veggie burgers, gluten free change with the times or go bye bye!

7:42AM PST on Feb 26, 2011

This parent brings up an important point. Remember Joe Camel and the Budweiser dog? I do. The first time I tried smoking cigarettes as a teen, guess what brand I bought? Camel. Recognition of the company through advertising is part of a process called branding. My family doesn't have TV, but my child still knows that there are toys in Happy Meals. This parent is trying to change the ads aimed at kids. So instead of criticizing why the parent let her child eat food known to be unhealthy, let's support the cause and begin a ground-breaking process!

10:02AM PST on Feb 6, 2011

Everything in moderation...unfortunately for Americans, excess seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Learn to cook mom and dad. And for those dead-on-your-feet-after-work nights, take time to read the labels on prepared foods. Freezor to microwave takes less time than pulling into the long line at McDonalds; saves money, too.

2:00PM PST on Feb 5, 2011

In Australia there's an alternative hapy meal with a piece of fruit, some fruit juice and something else (I can't remember what it is) which is supposed to constitute a healthier version of the happy meal. I bought it for a child once. Unfortunately the juice tasted toxic, the apple was all bruises, and the whatever else it was was not memorable for it's nutritional properties or even tasting good. Out of interest, do you have the healthy choice range in the US?

1:55PM PST on Feb 5, 2011

There's a lot of peer pressure at school too, it's not just the advertising that reaches the kids directly so turning off the tv doesn't give us full control. I've fostered a lot of kids who come to me feeling very deprived and they're usually emotionally connected to Macdonalds as a treat/reward/sign that they are loved. It's sad. Most of the food there isn't good for them and what I'd be happy to buy them from the stores, e.g. fruit, doesn't do it for them. But we compromise. Macdonalds sells the toys without the food. I buy the toy and we head home with it to have something more nutritious to eat. Over time we talk about how those toys are made, the earth's resources that are wasted producing the ones that the kids don't really want, and the people who have to labour to make them. It generally doesn't take too long until we only have to go very occasionally to get a toy that the child really wants... all the best.

7:45AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

It's a free country...Nobody forces this mother to let her children watch TV programs with a lot of ads, and nobody forces her to purchase Happy Meals.

The reality of life is that our children will be bombarded with temptations and things that are not good for them.

Instead of blaming everyone else, this mom could use the Happy Meals as a great opportunity to show her children how to be discriminating, and not be believe everything they see on television.

These skills will serve them well later on, when they will have to fight much more serious temptations such as drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and early sexual activity.

And, Mom, please teach yourself to say NO to your children, and teach your children to say NO to what may be harmful to them.

5:29AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

What are you thinking? Your suing a company over a choice you made to bring them there in the first place. No one put a gun to your head, that was your choice. Have you been living in a vacuum and did not know the McDonald's is not the healthiest restaurant in town. Did the fact that Americans are one of the more obese populations in the world even cross your mind. Don't blame others for your negative choices. McDonald's is a place where lazy or overworked people take their children, much like letting them watch television or play video games, because its an easy option - no cooking and no babysitters. If you have children, they are your first responsibility. If you can't take care of them properly, don't have them. Don't sue outside influences for your negligence.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

ads keep care2 free

meet our writers

Judy Molland An award-winning writer and teacher, Judy Molland is also an avid hiker, backpacker, and nature... more
Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.