Take a Chance with Your Health: McDonald’s Relaunch Monopoly
Are marketing campaigns like McDonald's Monopoly ethical?
McDonald’s Monopoly is making a comeback. This week they announced the launch of the Gold Card - the prize? A free McDonald's meal every week for a year! It’s just one of many prizes up for grabs in their annual marketing campaign that fills consumers with the warm anticipation of winning big. But let’s not forget, a large portion of the audience for this promotional masterpiece are children - drawn to the simple mechanic that’s encouraging them to buy and of course, eat more, and more, and more.
Arguably one of the most significant marketing campaigns in history; should we be asking is it ethical? In a world where the health of millions of children is being put at risk by staggering rates of child obesity, is it right that companies be allowed to market using such exploitative schemes?
We know fast food giants target lower-income families; cropping up at convenient locations with the illusion of 'good value’ low cost food. But is it luring vulnerable low-income families into eating too much HFSS food?
McDonald’s were clever; they knew if they gave away small instant wins, (i.e free food), it would satiate that modern-day need for instant gratification whilst encouraging customers to come back again and again with the new ‘winning’ stickers that arrived on their ‘free’ food. Marketing genius, no doubt. It drives sales, brand loyalty, repeat purchase and priceless word of mouth recommendations.
But these addictive marketing schemes have little regard for health. They are part of a broader landscape that is putting profit before the wellbeing of young people.
Of course, McDonald's will argue that the campaign is squarely aimed at adults but are they going far enough to ensure that is the case? Whilst last year they did change the rules that under 16s can’t claim prizes there is nothing stopping kids from experiencing a thrill of winning. And the tongue in cheek language; the people featured in the ads; the nature of the content they share, all point to a teenage audience.
Bite Back 2030, led by our Youth Board, are highlighting the need to push unhealthy food into the background on the grounds that it is taking up far too much room in children’s minds. Aggressive advertising aimed at children and fun promotions cast unhealthy options in a starring role. Healthier alternatives are getting lost in the background or are being pushed entirely offstage. Isn’t it time we set the stage for good health for all children and created a future where all young people have access to healthy food at affordable prices?