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McDonald's embraces self-regulation

McDonald's is to focus its marketing to children with a new healthy approach towards balanced diets and activity. 

McDonald's is stepping up its marketing to children by focusing its efforts on balanced diets and active lifestyles. This follows the launch of a £7.4m commitment to a new global advertising campaign based around the slogan: ìIt's what I eat and what I doÖI'm lovin' it.î The campaign features the tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams.

Speaking at the ISBA annual conference, Larry Light, the McDonald's chief marketing officer said restriction or regulation of marketing to children was wrong. ìWe do not need less communication to children, we need more,î he said.

ìWe have great credibility with children, they listen to us more than they do to their parents. We will still advertise burgers to children but we will say that if you want a burger, then re-examine what you eat with it.î

In the UK, McDonald's will add carrot sticks, chicken grills, Wobble-icious fruit jelly, Robinson's Apple Fruit Shoot and no-added-sugar Sprite Z to its menu - a process that will double the number of Happy Meal combinations from 54 to 108.

The burger chain has earmarked an additional £3.65m for UK TV advertising in 2005, which will feature fruit and vegetables in all of its Happy Meal campaigns. The first ad, which was created by Leo Burnett, launched on 24 March. A £1m UK ìIts what I eat and what I doî campaign will also launch this year featuring Olympic hopefuls. A second campaign starring the animated characters the YumChums is also planned.

Also at the conference, Light outlined the McDonald's seven-point self-regulation charter, which will form the basis of the company's communication with children around the world.

Earlier, the director-general of the European Union, Robert Madelin, told delegates that the EU supported self-regulation of junk-food advertising in principle and called for the industry to become involved with the EU's obesity platform, which was launched last month.

Meanwhile, the Ofcom chief executive, Stephen Carter, told ISBA that a change in the law to allow product placement on TV was something the regulator was considering. ìWe have had it for years in films without viewer detriment,î he said. ìIn principle why not in television?î

2nd September 2008

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