by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: McDonald’s

Apr 9 2015

Consumer advocates petition FTC to keep junk food advertising out of YouTube for Kids

A coalition of children’s and consumer advocacy groups (see list below) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charging that Google’s new YouTube Kids app violates restrictions on marketing junk foods to kids.

The coalition’s letter to the FTC details the charges.  YouTube Kids, it says:

  • Intermixes advertising and programming in ways that deceive young children.
  • Features “branded channels” for McDonald’s, Barbie, Fisher-Price, and other companies.
  • Distributes “user-generated” segments that feature toys, candy, and other products without disclosing the business relationships.

The Washington Post gives some examples:

On the American Greetings’ Strawberry Shortcake channel, for instance, a 37-second video features the red-haired doll describing the company’s “Food Fair” app, where characters pick ingredients for recipes. At the end, a banner appears showing the app can be downloaded on iTunes. McDonald’s has a 7-minute video dispelling myths about the contents of Chicken McNuggets. On another video, a deep-voiced announcer warns, “All vegetarians, foodies and gastronauts, kindly avert your eyes,” with a slow-cam close up of a juicy Big Mac. “You can’t get juiciness like this from soy or quinoa.”

Here’s the Coalition list: the Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Children Now, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Watchdog, Corporate Accountability International, and Public Citizen.

This will be fun to watch.  Stay tuned.

Apr 2 2015

McDonald’s raises its minimum wage–a little

McDonald’s announcement yesterday that it is raising the pay of workers at the outlets it owns, although not franchises, still comes as good news to everyone who cares about the plight of low-wage workers.  Everyone should.

But before breaking out the champagne, read these comments from Brandon Weber:

      Five Things to Know About McDonald’s Wage Announcement.

  1. Half a million Walmart workers just won raises to $10—456% more employees than are covered by McDonald’s announcement.
  2. The increase applies only to workers at corporate stores, which means only about 10% of the company’s U.S. workers will see a change in their income. About 1.6 million workers worldwide will get a raise of $0.
  3. Nearly everyone who works at McDonald’s will still get paid less than $10 an hour – not enough to pay the bills. And many will still be making far less. In many places, McDonald’s workers earn the federal minimum of $7.25, which means even those who will see an increase as a result of Wednesday’s publicity stunt will still be stuck trying to support families on $8.25 an hour.
  4. The announcement came a day after McDonald’s and other fast-food workers announced plans for the biggest-ever strike to hit the fast-food industry—a 200-city walkout on April 15.
  5. McDonald’s low wages cost taxpayers more than $1 billion a year. This won’t put a dent in that amount.

Fight for 15 (a minimum wage of $15/hour) is protesting McDonald’s weak announcement today in cities throughout the country.   McDonald’s has taken a tiny step.  It and other employers of low-wage workers need to do more.

Mar 19 2015

Food politics: A picture worth a thousand words…

 

McD

 

Thanks to my NYU colleague Marie Bragg for sending this along.  She particularly likes the reflection of the school bus passing by.

In case you can’t read it, it says: “Hospital Employees receive 10% off.  Must show valid hospital i.d.”

Don’t miss the heart monitor line in the middle.

Jan 24 2014

A commentary on Subway’s “pile on the veggies”

A reader sent me this commentary on yesterday’s post, source unknown.

If you know who created this, please send.

Enjoy the weekend!

Jan 2 2014

McDonald’s dietary recommendations for employees

Right after Christmas, the Wall Street Journal wrote that McDonald’s had taken down its website advising employees how to eat more healthfully—by not eating McDonald’s core products.

Oops.

Nothing on the Web really disappears, in part because of screenshots.  The website Russia Today, of all places, had done just that (thanks Ben Kelley, for sending).

mcdonalds unhealthy

Here’s an aggregation of what else got sent to me from other donors who prefer to remain anonymous:

After yet another PR headache, McDonald’s has taken down its employee resources website following what it deemed “unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary.”

My favorite comment comes from a tweet from Center for Science in the Public Interest, @CSPI:

Too bad re @McDonalds‘ McResource site. We liked its sensible #nutrition advice for employees (not to eat fast food) ow.ly/s5RXj

Enjoy and happy new year!

Oct 29 2013

How charitable is McDonald’s? Not very, says new report.

If McDonald’s apparently generous support of Ronald McDonald House Charities leaves you with warm feelings about the company’s philanthropic efforts, it’s time to rethink those feelings.

Michele Simon’s latest report, Clowning Around with Charity, should destroy all illusions about McDonald’s charitable giving.

New Picture (7)

The report comes to some interesting conclusions.  McDonald’s, it finds:

  • Promotes itself through Ronald McDonald House Charities but contributes only about 10% of the charity’s revenue.
  • Takes credit for donations.
  • Sells unhealthy children’s menu items by linking their sale to very modest charitable giving.
  • Profits from marketing to children in schools under the guise of charity and education.
  • Spends about a billion dollars a year on marketing, but only a small fraction of that amount on charitable causes.
  • Donates a lower percentage of its profits to charities than many other corporations and private citizens.
  • Explicitly created Ronald McDonald House for public relations purposes.

If you think about it, none of this is surprising, but it’s fascinating to have it all in one place.

Here’s today’s coverage so far:

Sep 30 2013

McDonald’s going healthy? Really?

At the White House Convening on food marketing to children a couple of weeks ago, representatives of food companies repeatedly stated that advocates are not giving them nearly enough credit for how hard it is for them to make and market healthier products.  They have shareholders to please.  They need positive reinforcement.

Pressures on advocates to applaud food companies’ efforts may explain the furor last week over McDonald’s latest promises to go healthy.  In a deal brokered with the Clinton Foundation’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation, McDonald’s announced its new initiatives in full-page newspaper advertisements (read the text here):

IMG-20130929-00084

Among other promises, McDonald’s said it would:

Promote and market only water, milk, and juice as the beverage in Happy Meals on menu boards and in-store and external advertising.

I did not participate in any of the press events so I can’t vouch for what was said.  But it must have left the impression that McDonald’s was dropping sodas as the default drink in Happy Meals (if parents wanted a soda for their kids, they would have to order one).

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), for example, issued a press release: “Removing Soda from kids’ meals among McDonald’s improvements.”

Ronald McDonald’s slow march toward healthier meals made a major advance today, but a long road lies ahead for the company. Getting soda out of Happy Meals is historic progress that should immediately be adopted by Burger King, Wendy’s, and other chains. Soda and other sugar drinks are leading promoters of obesity and diabetes and one day it will seem crazy that restaurants ever made this junk the default beverage for kids.

USA Today quoted CSPI’s Margo Wootan:

The prospect of being able to easily order a value meal at McDonald’s that’s comprised of a burger, a small salad and bottle of water is a huge step forward, says Margo Wootan, director of nutritional policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It takes a meal from being a nutritional disaster (burger, fries and soft drink), to something that will fit a healthy diet.

But then folks started looking at the fine print of McDonald’s actual agreement with the Clinton Alliance.

Uh oh.

CSPI issued another press release the next day: “McDonald’s, Alliance for Healthier Generation, misled public and media re: soda and Happy Meals.”

McDonald’s and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation misled the media, CSPI, and families when they stated that the company would not feature, promote, or market soda in connection with Happy Meals. In briefings to health groups and in their press release and full-page newspaper ads, McDonald’s and the Alliance claimed that the company would “promote and market only water, milk, and juice as the beverage in Happy Meals on menu boards and in-store and external advertising.” But small print in McDonald’s formal agreement with the Alliance states that “McDonald’s may list soft drinks as [sic] offering on [sic] Happy Meal section of menu boards.”

In any case, as McDonald’s explains in its press release, don’t hold your breath for any of its promises to happen soon:

All pieces of this commitment will be implemented in 30-50 percent of the 20 major markets within three years and 100 percent of the 20 markets by 2020.

In other words, McDonald’s intends to carry out these promises in a third to half of most of its major national and international markets by 2016—three years from now.  It will fulfill the promises in these particular 20 markets by 2020—seven years from now.

Food companies, alas, do not make it easy to applaud them.

Promises are one thing.  Now, if they would actually do something to make and market healthier products….

Addition 1:  Let’s Move! director and chef Sam Kass has this comment on McDonald’s promises:

We are encouraged by the progress announced today…. Making it easier for families to choose a healthy beverage in kids’ meals, and providing a salad option in the value menu are positive steps. A great deal of work remains to be done if we are going to ensure our children have the nourishment they need to live healthy lives and reach their full potential.

Addition 2: Here’s an explanation of how the discrepancy was found, from its finder, Casey Hinds of Kentucky Healthy Kids.  Casey sent the link to Michele Simon who forwarded it to Margo Wootan (and I read about the exchange on Twitter).

Update, October 11: McDonald’s clarifies its commitment; it will not advertise sodas with Happy Meals.

Dec 21 2012

Ad Age’s thought for the weekend: McScrooge or McSavior?

For an average take of $5,500 (that’s all?), McDonald’s will be open on Christmas day.  So says an investigative report by Advertising Age, which managed to get a hold of some internal McDonald’s memos.

And no, they won’t get overtime pay.

 

Happy holidays, everyone.

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