Mcdonald’s Case Study

McDonald’s and Obesity Case Study Reaction Paper McDonald’s Corporation is encountering a paradigm shift in the manner in which society views responsibility and ownership of issues. Society appears to be moving away from personal responsibility and to one of corporate responsibility. The question that McDonald’s must continually face is “Should s person be able to sue a company because the coffee is too hot or because a video game caused them to become addicted? (Schmaltz, 2010) A review of violent incidents at the G-8 Summits highlight the view dominant in a part of society – that corporations are not to be trusted. The 2001 G8 Summit evidenced “massive street protests” against “global capitalism”. Media outlets termed the riots of 2001 as staples of the Summit process. (G8 summit braces for more violence, 2001) The mob unrest issues at the Summits continued with excessive violence as shown at the G20 Summit in Toronto in 2010. Violence, vandalism rock G-20 protests, 2010) In Toronto, 1118 protestors were arrested because of massive and violent mob retaliation at the G20 Summit venue. (2010 G-20 Toronto summit protests, 2010) American corporations such as, McDonald’s were the targets of vandalism. (2010 G-20 Toronto summit protests, 2010) Financial abuse by corporations such as Enron, AIG, Bear Stearns, (StockMarket Crash of 2008, 2011) have contributed to the view that corporations and especially global and multinational corporations are trustworthy.
It is this current view of global corporations that McDonald’s faces which lead to a cultural view that is negative against the corporation. In the realm of personal responsibility, the 2004 Congress passed a bill called “The Cheeseburger Bill” (Munger, 2004) the purpose of which was to ensure that “food manufacturers and sellers should not be held liable for injury because of a person’s consumption of legal, unadulterated food and a person’s weight gain or obesity”. Munger, 2004) Americans do not believe that eating fast-food falls into the same category as smoking as it related to addiction, health consequences and responsibility. (Munger, 2004) According to a July 21, 2003 Gallup poll, most Americans – 89 percent – do not think that the fast food industry is legally responsible for diet related problems. (Munger, 2004) Europeans, and this is case is a UK based case, are more open to tighter controls on advertising and specifically advertisements that are targeted to children. Munger, 2004) MP Debra Shipley has been trying to pass bills limiting food advertisements to children but has been unsuccessful to this point. (Fast food firms face screen test, 2003) (Poulter, 2011) The research shows that society still looks to parental authority and parental responsibility to address the issue of childhood obesity. First Lady Michele Obama has taken Childhood Obesity as her personal platform. (Lee, 2010) The first of the four key pillars of Mrs. Obama’s platform is: Getting parents more informed about nutrition and exercise. Lee, 2010) In July, 2011, Mrs. Obama praised McDonalds for the changes that the corporation has made to their Happy Meal program whose market audience is children. (Jackson, 2011) Mrs. Obama is quoted in national media outlets with the following statements: Obama’s statement: “McDonald’s is making continued progress today by providing more fruit and reducing the calories in its Happy Meals. I’ve always said that everyone has a role to play in making America healthier, and these are positive steps toward the goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity.
McDonald’s has continued to evolve its menu, and I look forward to hearing about the progress of today’s commitments, as well as efforts in the years to come. ” (Jackson, 2011) This positive statement and attention from the First Lady and the Oval Office is a strong, positive and powerful response to all of the media fire that McDonalds has received in the past several years. In this single announcement, McDonalds has strengthened its position as a socially responsible corporation.

September is known as Childhood Obesity Month helping to inform and bring awareness to healthy eating for all ages. The State of Georgia has an excellent ad campaign on this topic that gives focus to the prevailing view that is supported by research, that the children who eat thee foods are not the ones driving to the locations to eat nor are they the ones who are paying for the food. The real issue becomes parental responsibility. McDonalds Corporation will continue to benefit strongly form the support that they are receiving from First Lady Michelle Obama.
It is obvious that McDonald’s aggressive reworking of their children’s menu is reaping strong benefits and receiving praise. For the long-term, McDonald’s needs to continue to remain focused on ensuring that they strengthen this segment of their market. McDonald’s has phenomenal logo and brand recognition as a provider of fast food. Ronald McDonald is recognized by 99% of all American children, (Munger, 2004) and eliminating his precense from the McDonald’s name would hinder their performance and damage their brand.
The McDonald’s Happy Meal Marketing Strategy in the UK does not include any of the healthy food options that are available in the US. Since the UK and EU are more favorably predisposed to legislation against children’s advertising, (Munger, 2004) the UK division needs to move decisively to capitalize on what has been learned from the revised US menu. The UK division must rapidly conduct focused market research to determine the items that would be appealing for UK parents and children and look at a timeline for including such items in their menu. Baker, 2011) In another positive development for McDonald’s in the UK, the popular website, Mumsnet. com, reversed their three year ban on McDonald’s being allowed to advertise on their website. (Chapman, 2011) Mumsnet regulates the companies that are allowed to interact on its website through a vote of members. The fact that Mumset has allowed McDonald’s to place ads on its site, does appear to signal a shift in the viewpoint of UK parents. As marketing blogger, Stuart Smith, comments in the article “McDonald’s put in the mincer over Happy Meals marketing”. Smith, 2010) Controlling the media imagine especially in the current easy availabilityof social media, McDonald’s must be ever vigilant about its image and marketing strategy. McDonalds in the UK has implemented a website called Make Up Your Own Mind. At this site, any type of question about McDonalds and their product (Make up your own mind, 2011) can be asked and then are answered by McDonalds staff. Included on this site is an interactive tab entitled “The Happy Meal Unpacked”. McDonald’s happy Meal unpacked, 2011) McDonalds utilizes “Quality Scouts” who visit various supplier locations, make videos and publish them and written reports on the website. (Meet the Quality Scouts, 2011) The website for McDonald’s in the UK is excellent and a good marketing strategy. In utilizing this outlet, McDonald’s UK is able to rapidly address the questions that the public raises as well as garner responses from the public. Charlotte’s response to how Chicken Nuggets get into Happy Meals is delightful. (Haile, 2010) Not only is their website an accurate, nformation and excellent marketing tool, McDonald’s UK actively supports the programs that are central to the UK populace – Free Range egg production, Open Farms (http://www. mcdonalds. co. uk/openfarms/) To help ensure future successes in this realm of the industry, McDonald’s UK needs to focus a timeline strategy on researching nutritional food products that can be placed in the Happy Meal product. They should consider entering into sponsorship with family fitness centers to promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle as they already promote sports such as football and sponsors a variety of recreational club. http://www. mcdonalds. co. uk/sports/football/football-hub. shtml) As many popular companies, branding is significant to success and appropriate branding is even more substantial. Ronald McDonald has become the staple brand for McDonald’s especially in their Happy Meals and children advertisinments. To take a brand such as Ronald McDonald for a food company and compare it to that of Joe Camel in the cigarette industry is unfair. The target markets (and messages thereto) that each one of these companies is after are completely different.
It is agreed that both types of ads have promoted incorrect messages to children in one form or another, however one cannot compare cigarettes to food. McDonalds has made several changes and modifications to their menu to help lessen the effects of their food and better comply with a healthy lifestyle. They have started to offer a variety of different options to their customers so that they are given the opportunity to choose if they will take the healthier route of the route not as healthy. That option is ultimately completely up to the consumer, but at least it is there for them.
Cigarettes on the other hand cannot be mad healthier or safer. Tobacco is tobacco and smoke is smoke and both lead to the same unfortunate results. As hard as companies try, cigaretts cannot be modified to become healthier for the consumer. As far as the elimination of Ronald McDonald to their advertisements, McDonalds would be taking away part of the brand that they have become. Everyone will recognize the golden arches and if a consumer wants a Big Mac, they will find a McDonalds to purchase one. The ultimate choice on what to eat lies within the consumer purchasing.
At least McDonald’s is providing them with more options to ponder when making that choice. Following scandals in regards to obesity being caused by the Fast Food industry, new and innovative legal solutions linked advertising, nutrition, and public health communities in constructive ways. Under a law put into effect in France by spring 2007, for television and radio advertisements that deal with food or beverages (other than water), marketers can either add a government-proscribed health message to the advertisement or pay a tax equivalent of 1. % of their annual advertising budget. Money from the levy goes directly to the French national institute for health prevention and education, the body that promotes healthy living in France (Jardine and Wentz 2005). One of the following four short messages, created by government should be added to any advertisements for processed, sweetened, or salted foods on television, radio, billboards, and the Internet for products processed or sold in France: * ‘For your health, eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day’ * ‘For your health, exercise regularly’ ‘For your health, avoid eating too many foods that are high in fat, sugar or salt’ * ‘For your health, avoid snacking between meals’. On television and in cinemas these health messages are shown on a thin horizontal band (corresponding to only 7 per cent of the height of the screen), or as a screened notice displayed just after the advertisement. On radio, the message is broadcast immediately after the advertisement. Printed materials include a horizontal message strip also corresponding to 7% of the total height of the advertisement.
This law was adopted as result of concerns about rising levels of obesity and especially childhood obesity, coupled with unease about the influence of United States’ fast food and soft drink companies on consumption of food and beverages in France. The increasing availability of foods high in fat, sugar and salt (so called junk foods) across the world has made eating healthily a challenge. This law was designed to encourage healthy eating habits and exercising and a healthy lifestyle.
Along with another French law requiring all nutritional valued to be displayed on the product package, the fast food tax law helped create awareness among French people in regards to the downside of unhealthy eating habits- quantitative and qualitative. However, this law did not discourage fast food advertising. MacDo France has almost one broadcast advertisement for each of the products offered to French consumers. For example, French channels broadcast a 23 seconds movie for the new burger CBO. It presents it to McDonald’s lovers as a sandwich with a new Chicken, Bacon, and Onion recipe that offers the perfect mix as its advertising shows.
Also, they use a lot of billboards in all cities which could be explained by the huge amount of restaurants present in France. McDonald should adopt adding the healthy message to their advertising rather than paying the tax. In the past years McDonald’s enhanced their menu with healthy choices and published nutritional values of their meals. The healthy message plays along the company’s current marketing strategy. McDonald’s can use this law requirement as a marketing strategy and they can position themselves as health promoters rather than encouraging unhealthy meals.
Below is a clip with a current French advertising. http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=px2VxWmjR-o&NR=1 The message written on the advertising reads, “For your Health eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day”. This is the healthy message required by law. This is McDonald’s choice for advertising in France and rather than paying 1. 5 percent in tax they chose to help spreading the health message. Whether or not obesity rates fall in countries that ban food advertisements, will not be a result of if the advertisement campaign was successful or not, but more on the consumer themselves.
Every consumer is free to make their own choices when it comes to any purchase they make; therefor they will make the one that resonates best with what they want. The companies have the responsibility to provide healthier choices to offer their customers so that those looking to change their lifestyles or try something different, healthier, trendier, etc. have that opportunity. McDonald’s is making all of the right moves to provide healthier choices and better options to those consumers who choose to purchase those. References: G8 summit braces for more violence. (2001, July 21). Retrieved October 2, 2011, from www. cnn. com:

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