McDonald’s believes perception doesn’t match reality when it comes to advertising

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 21st May 2009

The bid to ban the advertising of ‘junk food’ to kids paints an unfair picture of the fast-food industry, according to McDonald’s.

The Coalition on Food Advertising to Children (CFAC), which includes the Cancer Council, Choice and The Parents Jury among others, recently launched a campaign to ban TV advertising of unhealthy food to children before 9pm. The online campaign includes a video of a hamburger knocking on the door of a family’s house only to be kicked out by an upset father. “You wouldn’t allow it on your doorstep,” the ad contends, “why allow it on your television?” It ends with the implication that burger chains use toys to promote “pester power” for unhealthy food.

“The Federal Government’s efforts to promote healthy lifestyle messages can’t compete with the food industry, when the government is outspent six to one on marketing,” Kathy Chapman, nutritionist and Chair of CFAC, said upon its launch a few weeks ago.

McDonald’s Director of Marketing in Australia, Helen Farquhar, has, however, criticised the campaign for failing to realise the improvements to advertising standards that some in the food industry had made.

“It doesn’t represent our policy of responsibly marketing to children. It’s so far removed from what we do,” she told B&T. “We haven’t promoted burgers and fries to kids for years and we only use our licensed characters to promote our healthy range.”

“Yet many out there think we would advertise a quarter pounder to a child. There’s a lot of confusion and the perception isn’t the reality.”

McDonald’s has previously pledged to limit advertising to children under 12 to food that meets certain nutritional guidelines.

Ms Farquhar said the fast-food chain took the issue very seriously and was keen to collaborate with the lobby groups on other ideas to reduce obesity.