McDonald's Attempt to Create a Healthier Happy Meal Backfires
August 22, 2016
Last week McDonald's took one step forward and two steps back. After first introducing a fitness tracker Step-It in Happy Meals earlier in the week, by Wednesday the fast-food giant pulled the controversial item citing potential skin rash.
The move to swap out a Happy Meal toy for a fitness tracker confused some wondering how fast-food and healthy eating related.
"Physical activity is important to everyone of all ages. We very much support children's well-being," said McDonald's Canada senior marketing manager Michelle McIlmoyle.
Michelle Greenwald, Columbia Business School professor who is an expert in the food and beverage industry, told USA Today in a phone interview, "In marketing today you need to surprise people and jar them in order to reframe their thinking."
As one of the main sponsors, McDonald's was hoping to capitalize off of the Olympics partnership.
This isn't the first time McDonald's has attempted to create a healthier kids meal. In 2011, the company began offering the choice between fruit or Go-Gurt with Happy Meals. This came after years of pressure from food activists and consumer groups pushing for an increase in fruit and vegetables.
McDonald's most recent effort didn't last long. Only a few days after the trackers were available in Canadian and US stores nationwide, the company pulled it.
“We have taken this swift and voluntary step after receiving limited reports of potential skin irritations that may be associated with wearing the band,” McDonald's spokeswoman Terri Hickey said in a statement.
For the record, there are 539 calories in a McDonald's Happy Meal, which means an average 8-year-old would have to walk for 300 minutes to burn it off, right around the time for dinner. Happy Meal anybody?