Some food and beverage marketers with perceived unhealthy products are asked why they advertise to kids, given the rise of childhood obesity. At
McDonald’s, CMO Neil Golden suggests the question should be flipped to ask: Why not use advertising to improve kids’ health?
Golden, who leads U.S. marketing, said McDonald’s is demonstrating “marketing can be used for good” and is “committed to being part of the dialogue” to advance that message.
“Doing what’s right not only means making kids happy, but healthy, too,” he said at the ANA’s Masters of Marketing event Thursday. McDonald’s has committed to offering a message in all national advertising about healthy lifestyles or nutrition benefits.
As for the role of Ronald McDonald as an icon in kids’ marketing, Golden said: “He is a force for good and just in case anyone was wondering, he’s not retiring.”
Golden, a father of four and former pro tennis player, said the issue of championing children’s health “hits home for me.”
The Happy Meal is a core kids’ product that he said offers a “great combination of nutrition, value and fun,” while McDonald’s has taken steps to making it more nutritious, in part by adding apple slices to all servings and reducing sodium in McNuggets.
“That is McDonald’s making a difference and being a leader,” Golden adds.
More broadly, the city of New York has moved to limit the size of some soda servings, which other municipalities may follow. Golden said McDonald’s is in favor of self-regulation.
“We continue to advocate the idea that giving consumers choice and information is the right way to go,” he said. “Consumers will make the right decision for them … we fundamentally believe that consumers are smart individually and collectively and will do what’s right for their interest.”
McDonald’s recently began posting calorie counts in restaurant and drive-through menus.