Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is the Happy Meal Predatory?

Yeah, I guess it is, But then again isn’t ALL advertising predatory?

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a non-profit group based in Washington D.C., has served McDonald’s with a letter of intent. If they don’t remove the toys from their Happy Meals, they’ll be facing a class action law suit.

The CSPI claims that including toys with "unhealthy junk food" is illegal under consumer protection statutes in California, Texas, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.

McDonald’s, of course, disagrees.

The CSPI is taking the position that by including the toys and bombarding kids with slick advertising, McDonald’s is making it almost impossible for parents not to be overwhelmed by the demands of their offspring.

I’m having a hard time buying this one. Granted, making fast food less unhealthy would be a good thing but how can you ask a company not to advertise in the most effective way possible?

Are kids REALLY clamoring to be taken to McDonald’s based upon the Happy Meal advertising? I suspect that more often than not the “Happy Meal” clamoring only begins once the family is already at McDonald’s.

How about we outlaw Sunday School while we’re at it? That’s probably doing more harm than an occasional Happy Meal.

Happy Meals, like anything else, taken in moderation aren’t going to kill anyone. I’m wondering if this is going a bit too far. On the other hand, aiming advertising at children, who don’t have the education or maturity to weed out the nonsense, isn’t exactly what I would call ethical behavior so why shouldn’t it be restricted?

There is a limit. We can protect children from the world only so much. The world has a way of getting in no matter what we do. This smacks of CSPI trying to do the parent’s job for them and I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.

Why not just outlaw McDonald’s, and Burger King, and Wendy’s and Domino’s and KFC? That would certainly solve the “kids are eating unhealthy food problem.”

Or would it? Would you also have to outlaw potato chips and cookies and pretzels?

While I understand the objective here, and it’s certainly a laudable one, I’m not sure that legal action is the way to go. What is this idea that people seem to have these days that their opinions should be codified in law?

I think this is a bit much.

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