March 5, 2012 at 2:06 PM ET
After getting beat up in the court of public opinion in the last year or so, McDonald's reportedly plans a push to rehab the reputation of its Happy Meal.
Ad Age reports, citing people familiar with the matter, that the company will launch a national campaign this week that focuses on … nutrition.
OK, quit smirking. Although it’s hard to imagine that anyone in this day and age would argue that health is the first reason for buying a child a Happy Meal.
McDonald's and its ad agency wouldn’t comment on the campaign.
Ad Age reports that the campaign won’t amount to a major push for the burger titan.
… the chain has decreased its overall spending on Happy Meals. McDonald's spent about $92 million on the product in 2011 -- close to 10 percent of its total U.S. measured-media budget but down from $115.2 million in 2010. By far the nation's top restaurant ad spender, McDonald's spent $963 million on measured media in 2011, according to Kantar, up 8.6 percent from 2010.
The Happy Meal has become the whipping boy, and perhaps easiest mark, for advocates who have complained about both the company’s offerings and their marketing to children.
Last year, San Francisco passed a law preventing toys being given away with meals – a move squarely aimed at the chain. The company found a way around that by charging a dime for the toy and donating it to charity.
In a more literary attempt at placating detractors, the company offered books with Happy Meals in the U.K. for a limited time. We’ll not make the obvious joke about Americans and reading.