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McD’s revamps food packaging

OAK BROOK Ill. McDonald’s on Wednesday unveiled new packaging that features selected nutritional information about its products as well as photos of some ingredients. The changeover, which begins this month in the United States, is intended to deliver a more positive impression of the chain’s food, according to officials.

The chain also disclosed that it is poised to launch a new exercise initiative tied to “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,” a DreamWorks animated movie aimed at children. The new “One Minute to Move It” program represents a “new direction” in McDonald’s efforts to promote physical activity by children, said global chief marketing officer Mary Dillon.

She described the worldwide switch to new containers as “the biggest new-packaging initiative in the history of our brand.”

The new packages feature photos of the items they contain and their ingredients as well as such nutritional information as the amount of calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates and salt.

The strategy behind the new packaging is to shift the chain’s message “from fast food to good food fast,” said Pierre Woreczek, chief brand and strategy officer of marketing for McDonald’s Europe, who also spoke at the news conference.

The packaging contains copy describing the product in what he called “storytelling-driven information” that also puts a “fun twist to food.” Copy on a Chicken McNuggets box reads: Chicken McNuggets. An excellent source of happiness.”

The packaging will roll out this month in the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and then throughout the rest of McDonald’s world markets in 2009 and 2010.

Although the design is “pretty consistent with a framework,” foreign markets will have the flexibility to adapt designs to reflect local culture, Woreczek said.

Dillon would not divulge the cost of the packaging redesign, but said it was slightly more than McDonald’s previous repackaging efforts.

The Happy Meal tie-in to “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” will encourage children to engage in activities for at least a minute a day, whether they’re physical activities such as jumping and skipping or mental exercises like solving puzzles and answering computer quizzes.

The “One Minute to Move It” program is based on research McDonald’s commissioned to discover the activities that motivate the “mind, body and spirit” of children, said Dr. Paul Gately, Carnegie professor of exercise and obesity at Leeds Metropolitan University in United Kingdom.

The movie tie-in will include a video on Nickelodeon and Nick 2 that begins airing next month in the United States and features Olympic gold medalist gymnast Shawn Johnson.

Dillon said McDonald’s will give stronger marketing support to the tie-in than it did to its promotion last year of “Shrek 3,” which also encouraged physical activity. The larger support this year comes from more in-store activities and merchandising, Dillon said.

Online support will allow children to record their daily activities. As children partake in whatever activity they choose, they’ll likely continue it for more than just a minute, Dillon said.

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