McDonald’s seeks to ‘enrich’ kids with its Beijing Olympics initiative

McDonald’s seeks to ‘enrich’ kids with its Beijing Olympics initiative

OAK BROOK ILL. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

The “McDonald’s Champion Kids” initiative will give 300 children worldwide a chance to attend the Beijing 2008 Olympics, where they’ll be able to watch the games, meet athletes, tour cultural sites and interact with kids from other countries. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

It’s part of McDonald’s “biggest ever” Olympic tie-in, said Mary Dillon, global chief marketing officer, and contributes to what she called a McDonald’s “tradition” of being a responsible marketer. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

McDonald’s announced the program shortly after a study found that children preferred the taste of food and drinks they thought were from McDonald’s over identical alternatives. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

The Olympics campaign also was unveiled within days of the Federal Trade Commission issuing subpoenas to McDonald’s and a handful of other large chains to require them to hand over documents on kid-marketing practices. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

The children’s-preference study, published in the August issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, involved 63 low-income children who were 3 to 5 years old and in Head Start programs in San Mateo County, Calif. They tasted a McDonald’s hamburger, chicken nuggets and French fries, as well as milk and carrots from a grocery store. Identical products were placed in wrappers with the McDonald’s logo and in plain wrappers without the logo. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

Asked to say which food tasted better, the children overwhelmingly chose the food they believed came from McDonald’s, “demonstrating that brand identity can influence young children’s taste perceptions,” the study found. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

Although the study concluded that its findings are “consistent with recommendations to regulate marketing to young children,” they also suggest that “branding may be a useful strategy for improving young children’s eating behavior.” —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

That’s exactly what McDonald’s believes it has been doing for the past two to three years. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

McDonald’s is proud of its branded fruits, vegetables, yogurt and low-fat milk and is selling “record volumes” of the items worldwide, spokesman Walt Riker said. The chain has changed the way kids eat, he added, by making those foods “something that kids and families enjoy.” —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

Despite those and other efforts, critics still deride the chain’s marketing practices and menu, but evidence indicates that McDonald’s has altered the way it targets kids in both areas. Since the 2004 launch of its “Go Active!” program for kids, McDonald’s has encouraged them to exercise and eat more healthful meals, and it recently pledged to advertise only better-for-you meals to children under 12. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

Dillon calls the Champion Kids program “another example of our commitment to the enrichment of children” and says it is consistent with the chain’s marketing to children through the years. The benefits to McDonald’s “are not measured in dollars and cents,” she said, but “in a broad way it elevates our brand.” —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

Champion Kids was launched Aug. 9 in Beijing and will roll out worldwide throughout the year. Of the 300 children, ages 6 to 14, chosen for the program, 100 will come from China. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

McDonald’s in China has partnered with state-run CCTV Kids Channel to create a series of programs showing how children in the country are competing for a spot in Champion Kids. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

Children will be chosen based on their “mind, body and spirit” skills as measured by physical activity, knowledge of the Olympic Games, and how they interact with and present themselves to others. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, a six-time Olympic gold medalist, is the McDonald’s Global Ambassador for Champion Kids and helped kick off the program in Beijing. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

Although McDonald’s is in the early stages of planning Olympic-theme marketing efforts, Dillon said food promotions and other market-specific programs are being developed. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

“We’re putting a lot of resources into it,” she said, adding that the 118 countries where McDonald’s has restaurants are planning “major” marketing tie-ins. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

Dean Barrett, senior vice president of global marketing, said McDonald’s Olympic tie-in next year will be the “most comprehensive Olympics sponsorship ever.” —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

McDonald’s plans to build four restaurants in Beijing, one in the Athlete’s Village [3], where it will be the only branded restaurant. The three others will serve spectators, officials, coaches and the media. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

The chain also will bring 1,500 of its “best crew members” from around the world to work at the restaurants, Barrett said. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

McDonald’s has introduced in China a version of its Big Mac, called the China Mac, and is conducting a food promotion featuring flavors from around the world, said Gary Rosen, McDonald’s chief marketing officer in China. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.

McDonald’s has been an Olympics sponsor since 1976 and is designated the Official Restaurant of the Olympic Games. —Just as McDonald’s Corp. took it on the chin again this month for the way its brand affects children’s eating habits, the chain unveiled a kid-focused 2008 Olympics program it said would extend many years of responsible marketing to kids.