McDonald’s faces unhappy times over Happy Meal advertising

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th July 2012

The Advertising Standards Board (ASB) in Australia has issued a warning against the fast food chain McDonald’s for targeting children through its Happy Meals website.

A previous complaint lodged a year ago by the Obesity Policy Coalition was dismissed by the ASB despite the McDonald’s Happy Meal website promoting free toys with kids’ meals, themed birthday parties at its restaurants, fun games and cartoons including characters licensed by McDonald’s.  However, at the same time,  the ASB made a statement that microsites directed to children must avoid any reference to particular products and minimize organisational promotion.

The Cancer Council NSW submitted a complaint in May 2012 saying that McDonald’s had ignored the ASB’s statement. The Cancer Council claimed that a breach of the Code was evident from the cartoon characters on the Happy Meals website. The complaint was supported by a letter to the ASB signed by 510 community members. The new warning from ASB to McDonald’s was made by the determination of the ASB in response to this complaint.