Shut down HappyMeal.com
Dear CEO Don Thompson,
Predatory marketing to kids by the junk food industry–with McDonald’s as the industry leader–is driving an epidemic of diet-related illnesses in children, from Type 2 diabetes to heart disease. As a result, this generation of children may be the first in US history to live shorter lives than their parents.
McDonald’s has long pioneered the use of marketing designed specifically to appeal to children. The Happy Meal is McDonald’s flagship attraction for kids.
Online, HappyMeal.com is a cornerstone of McDonald’s strategy to manipulate children and sell them on a lifetime of brand loyalty and junk food. Every pixel of HappyMeal.com is designed with one intent: to hook kids on the McDonald’s brand. This online playground includes advertisements for the latest Happy Meal toys, photo opportunities with Ronald McDonald, and games – all to transform children into devoted McDonald’s customers.
All marketing to children is inherently deceptive as children are too young to understand its persuasive intent, but it’s even more exploitative when advertisements masquerade as fun and games.
Moreover, HappyMeal.com and other industry websites target kids where parents are not, actively undermining parents’ authority. Last year, McDonald’s came under fire from privacy advocates for using HappyMeal.com to collect children’s email addresses without obtaining parental consent – a flagrant violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
It is time to put an end to McDonald’s targeting of children online. CEO Don Thompson, we call on you to shut down HappyMeal.com.