McDonald’s free Happy Meal offer not considered advertising to children
There’s a McDonald’s ad on the web and Facebook lately which shows a young girl and her mother at McDonald’s. You may think the blurred Happy Meal box and a free offer of a Happy Meal might encourage pester power but that’s not what the advertiser or the Advertising Standards Board says.
The Board dismissed the complaint saying that the mere presence of a child does not make the ad appealing to children. As well, the Board said that the theme of the ad was promoting the Create Your Taste burger, a menu item not “typically chosen by children”, with “the added value of receiving a free happy meal“. Therefore they ruled that the ad was not advertising directed primarily to children and so was not covered under the self-regulatory initiative.
This is a key failing of the Quick Service Restaurant Initiative. If an advertisement is not “primarily” directed to children then it is not considered advertising to children under the Initiative’s definitions.