Here’s why I support the 550 health professionals who penned this open letter to McDonald’s: In elementary school, bullies and insensitive twits called me Ronald McDonald (and Ronald Reagan). Please, by all means, kill that stupid clown.
I can’t support, however, an argument against McDonald’s marketing. Yes, marketing plays a role in food choices—and all those crappy little Happy Meal toys and the colorful clown with his rag-tag bunch of friends are certainly affecting a child’s attraction to cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets.
But there’s one big piece of the marketing puzzle glaringly omitted: the McDonald’s PlayPlace.
For many kids, McDonald’s Playplace is the only affordable option for gross motor activity in urban or winter environments. Those colorful tubes and slides are, in my opinion, far more alluring than a freaky clown or plastic toys.
I used to eat at McDonald’s once per year, just to reaffirm that it’s revolting. Now I’m shoving a Big Mac into my face several times per year because my daughters need a place to blow off steam in the winter. Ronald McDonald won’t change that—but having other options will.
If these health professionals really wanted to make a difference, they’d draft open letters to municipal governments, demanding public indoor playgrounds for children. They’d help spearhead marketing campaigns at healthy restaurants to get (BPA and lead-free) toys into their kids’ meals. And they’d ignore McDonald’s, deny them this free publicity, and cultivate the future they want instead of hacking away at the past.
What do you think?