McDonald's Happy Meal focus of new marketing campaign

McDonald's USA will introduce a new, national Happy Meal campaign this week, including TV ads promoting nutrition and active lifestyles. The campaign complements the new Happy Meals that have rolled out nationwide and include apple slices and "kid-size" french fries. The item has 20 percent fewer calories than its predecessor.

"For the first time, 100 percent of our national marketing efforts to kids will include nutrition or active lifestyle messages – a significant move in our ongoing commitment to children's wellbeing," said Neil Golden, McDonald's USA chief marketing officer. "We are proud of this new approach and believe it will help make nutrition fun for kids while helping families feel even better about the food choices they make when visiting McDonald's."

The new Happy Meal campaign is McDonald's latest initiative to support its "Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices," announced July 2011.

The new global program's purpose is to encourage a balanced approach to nutrition and activity and, in doing so, participating McDonald's coutries will initiate grassroots activities for children. The program features a website, digital engagement and special Happy Meal packaging.

New advertising characters

The new Happy Meal TV commercials debuts nationally March 7 and will use storytelling – with metaphors, rhyme and song – to teach children about the benefits of balanced eating. With an objective of making nutritious eating fun for kids, new characters will be introduced, and will work to achieve their goals with the help of balanced eating and active play.

The initial ads feature Ferris, a happy kid who lives with his friends, including Ant, Deana and Dino the Dodo, on a "Fun, Funky Farm." His goat eats everything in sight, until he learns how to eat foods from the recommended food groups, including Happy Meal apple slices and fat-free chocolate milk.

Select ads featuring the current Happy Meal toys are aimed to encourage active and imaginative play that benefits children's overall well being.

Ronald McDonald also will continue to be an ambassador for children in ongoing McDonald's advertising and local community programs.

According to Ad Age, the new campaign was created by Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett, Chicago.

Contest to reward top kids' stories of nutritious fun

The company has introduced a new Happy Meal Chefs contest that gives two parent and child teams the opportunity to help create and test nutrition-minded Happy Meal choices alongside McDonald's executive chef Dan Coudreaut.

Now through April 18, the McDonald's Happy Meal Chefs contest is seeking inspiring stories from parent and child teams who enjoy cooking with wholesome ingredients at family mealtime.

Ten kids will win a trip to the London 2012 Olympic Games as part of McDonald's Global Champions of Play program, and two grand prize winners will become honorary "Happy Meal Chefs," earning an apprenticeship with Coudreaut.

"Every day in McDonald's executive kitchen, my menu team and I aspire to come up with new, nutrition-minded menu choices that kids will love," Coudreaut said. "The Happy Meal Chefs contest is inviting families to join in our team's effort to make wholesome food fun."

Parents or legal guardians with kids ages eight to 11 are eligible to enter online at the Happy Meal Chefs contest page. Participants must answer a brief questionnaire and submit a short video online that creatively showcases their family mealtime. They're also encouraged to learn about and feature recommended food groups from the USDA's MyPlate.

Five-time U.S. Olympic Swimmer and Global Champions of Play Ambassador Dara Torres is a member of the Happy Meal Chefs judging panel.

Read more about marketing and branding.

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