Minions generate complaints about McDonald’s ads

The recent Minion promotion at McDonald’s coinciding with the school holidays generated a few complaints to the Advertising Standards Board (ASB). One complaint about a children’s activity sheet branded with the Golden Arches and downloadable from the Happy Meal website was dismissed because the ASB ruled that it was a “promotion for McDonald’s the company” and not advertising or marketing for a food or beverage. The Board considered the activity sheet as accessed via the Happy Meal website was marketing material for food but the website met the requirements for healthier dietary choices (the only food featured on the website is the ‘healthy’ Happy Meal) and encouraged good dietary habits and physical activity. To address concerns, McDonalds highlighted changes to the website- a “hip” shaking Happy who pops up periodically encouraging movement; visuals of Happy skipping when pages are loading “to again encourage movement” and a voiceover (when clicked on) stating “healthy food is fun and delicious. Roll in and grab a fruit bag today”.

Other complaints were about radio and TV ads that used Minions characters to advertise a Quarter Pounder Extra Value Meal that included a quarter pounder, fries, a drink and a banana Choc McFlurry. In the case of the TV ad, the Board ruled that the reference to Minions in the ad was not in itself a call to children to visit a McDonald’s restaurant and adults would equally enjoy both the movie and the McFlurry. It ruled that the theme, visuals and language were not directed primarily to children and was not shown in programming that attracted an audience of more than 35% children which are requirements in the code. A complaint about the microsite related to the Minion promotion was also dismissed as McDonald’s said 81% of the visitors to the site were aged 18-44 years. Again, the Board ruled that the site was not aimed “in the first instance” at children.

Advertising Standards Board complaint numbers 0281/15, 0280/15, 0279/15, 0282/15
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