Have movie tie-ins like Shrek and McDonald's taken marketing too far?
When is the craziness gonna end with these cross-promotions between blockbuster films aimed at children and fast food restaurants? We wonder why childhood obesity isn't getting any better and yet we continue to see such blatant abuse of the love and trust kids have in these characters they see on the silver screen.
McDonald's is notorious for feigning to be a supporter of health with gimmicks like their new R Gym and donating money to combat childhood obesity while still serving such high-carb garbage "food" products as French Fries, apple pies, and milkshakes. Now they've done it again with the release this week of what is sure to be the biggest animated film of all-time--Shrek The Third.
You'll recall my blog post about how ironic it is that Shrek was being used to promote exercise by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services while simultaneously pushing junk foods like Skittles, M&M's, Fruit Loops, and other sugary, carb-loaded products. Now the big green lovable ogre is pushing something strange again--"healthy" meals for kids at McDonald's?
This PR Week column says McDonald's has teamed up with Dreamworks on this massive Shrek campaign to try to encourage children to eat better. Ooooookay, so an ogre who eats anything and everything in sight wants kids to do as he says not as he does. I see.
The new Shrek Happy Meal gives the following "healthy" food choices for children--Chicken McNuggets (breaded and packed with carbohydrates), Apple Dippers with Caramel Dipping Sauce (as if the sugar from the apples wasn't bad enough, you have to give them a high-fructose corn syrup dip, too--oh yeah, it's LOW-FAT!), low-fat milk (um, that's not exactly healthy for you, I hate to break it to the head honchos at Mickey D's!) and a Shrek toy (well, at least SOMETHING is carb-free).
Isn't this just disgusting! The worst part of all is McDonald's can thump its chest at how responsible they are to offer such "healthy" options for their customers when they are doing no such thing. Of course, they're playing it up by claiming their Shrek marketing strategy is the "single biggest global promotion" of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk in the company's history.
You've GOT to be kidding me!
Well, goodie goodie for you, McDonald's! But don't give me the fruit and vegetable copout answer! You have YET to cater to the low-carber on your menu while you have bent over backwards sucking up to the nutritional advice of people like one of your health advisory board consultants, Dr. Dean Ornish. Even HE told me in my interview with him last year that you should be doing more.
Why is that, McDonald's? What's wrong with putting even a few token "low-carb" items on your menu so that we can find something healthy for us to eat when we are on the road, hmmm? Grilled chicken nuggets, blueberries and cream, sugar-free low-carb cookies, ANYTHING! Do you even care about having us as customers?
But all this talk of being about a "healthy" diet at McDonald's has led the British CEO to protest that they need to stop the masquerade and get back to selling bigger burgers instead. Ahhh, nothing like a little truth for a change!
Nevertheless, marketing promotions like the one with Shrek remain to give kids "choices." Sigh. While Shrek may be telling kids to "Go For Green," I have a feeling they'll keep on going for carbs instead (just look at the statistics from a recent American Diabetes Association report about what constitutes vegetable consumption by kids these days--it's a SHOCKER!).
This isn't just an American problem either as McDonald's has taken their Shrek campaign to over 100 nations worldwide. So, by all means go watch Shrek, Donkey, The Gingerbread Man, Puss In Boots, and Fiona in their magical tale this weekend. But tell your kids about what healthy eating is REALLY about by celebrating with a meal fit for a low-carb king.
It's NOT at McDonald's, I can assure you of that.