On Wednesday McDonald's began to distribute fictional and non-fiction books with childrens 'Happy Meals' in the UK. This is an effort to boost literacy for British children backed by the National Literacy Trust. McDonald's will in effect become the UK's largest children's book distributor with more than 15 million books estimated to be given away over the next two years.
With the ongoing debate around the morals of marketing directly to children this is both an interesting and great strategic approach by McDonalds. It has already led to a lot of positive PR and will surely win the admiration from parents and the general public alike.
The first Mc Donald's TV advert featuring Willard Scott who is cited as the creator as well as the first actor to play "Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown" in a TV commercial. This 1963 advert can be watched below:
Over the years and after changing his name, 'Ronald Mc Donald' became an iconic image. TV Adverts were directly marketed to children often with a buy, buy, buy, eat, eat, eat overtone. The video below is one of my personal favourites from McDonalds due to it's bizarre and surreal nature.
McDonalds new marketing approach encompasses learning and discovery. McDonalds initial trial found that 9/10 parents wanted to see more book promotions from the fast food chain following the Michal Morpurgo book promotion last year.
It will be interesting to see if Mc Donalds 'Happy Readers' campaign will evolve in time and whether integrations with e-books and SMART TV's are utalised.
Worldwide Tablet shipments to exceed Notebooks in 2013 (NPD DisplaySearch forecast)
I feel that there is a huge opportunity for fast food outlets to increase their reach and profit through education using books, mobile, tablets and SMART TV's over the next three years. Furthermore, when children are old enough to purchase fast food the loyalty built up from cheap toys (for most of us) has gone. If education is embraced and integrated within the ethos and digital engagement occurs across multiple platforms a lifetime of brand loyalty may be achievable.
Other fast food characters not to be forgotten
Burger King's Kids Club
KFC's 1969 TV advert featuring Harland "Colonel" Sanders )1890 – 1980)