McDonald's CMO: Licensing Will Evolve Under New Ad Effort

McDonald's, the only restaurant company among the 10 charter members of the new Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, calls its participation "another evolution" in the chain's efforts to market responsibly to children under 12 years of age.

"This is part of what we have been espousing as well as practicing for a number of years," William Lamar, chief marketing officer for McDonald's USA, told Marketing Daily. The initiative includes all McDonald's domestic stores, including franchised locations, Lamar said.

The initiative, announced Tuesday by the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the National Advertising Review Council, lays out several terms for participants. Among them: Devoting at least half its advertising efforts to messages that encourage healthy diet and lifestyle choices. "This we would meet today," Lamar said.

Another term: Not advertising food or beverages at schools. McDonald's does not advertise in elementary or middle schools, Lamar said.



Yet another: Reducing the use of third-party licensed characters in advertising that does not meet the initiative's product or "messaging criteria." Lamar allowed that McDonald's has work to do here: "Our use of third-party characters certainly will evolve," he said.

Still, he pointed out that a recent tie-in with characters from the Disney movie "The Incredibles" revolved around activity, and that the featured meal of chicken McNuggets, apple dippers and milk met dietary guidelines for children under 12.

"There's nothing here we think is inconsistent with the standards we have and how we communicate to children," Lamar said. When asked if he hoped other restaurant chains would join the initiative, he said: "I think every company has to make its own decision."

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