Advertising watchdog rules McDonald's marketing to children breaches rules

By AdNews | 1 August 2014

The advertising watchdog has upheld a complaint against McDonald's for marketing to children.

The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has run the rule over a flyer handed out at a children’s playground which promoted a free fries with purchase offer.

The voucher in question was handed out with admission to the SPC Ardmona KidsTown Adventure Playground in Victoria, on one side is a of the voucher was a picture of Ronald McDonald with text reading, "Play money. dollars". On the other side of the voucher was an image of McDonald's fries and the text, "Free small fries with any purchase".

One complaint noted that: “McDonalds Australia is a signatory to the Quick Service Restaurant Initiative for Responsible Advertising to Children (QSRI). We submit that in promoting fries to children through distributing the voucher, McDonald’s has breached the QSRI by advertising and marketing products to children which do not represent healthier dietary choices, and do not promote healthy diets or lifestyles.”

In a statement to the ASB McDonald's explained that when it became aware of the complaint it instructed Kids Town Adventure Playground to withdraw the voucher and any other similar food vouchers.

Even though the board found that the advertisement did not encourage excess consumption or otherwise undermine the importance of a healthy active lifestyle, the advertisement still breached s1.1 of the QSRI therefore the Board upheld the complaint.

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