McDonald's Says: Not Our Problem That Parents Can't Say No

Chow on 04.20.11
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According to the website The Consumerist, a California parent has filed a lawsuit against McDonald's, alleging that the company violates state laws by using toys to advertise Happy Meals directly to children. The plaintiff pointed out that her childrens' request for a Happy Meal increased when McDonald's offered Shrek themed toys in the meals. "Children 8 years old and younger do not have the cognitive skills and the developmental maturity to understand the persuasive intent of marketing and advertising," her lawyers wrote. McDonald's believes the lawsuit should be thrown out because it isn't their fault that parents are unable to say no to their children. They say that their advertising has in no way misled the parent.

I was interested to discover that my husband and I hold diametrically opposed views on this particular issue. I think McDonald's is right. When this mother's lawyers say that children under the age of 8 do not understand the allure of marketing, that is true, but that's where parents come in. If you don't want your child to go to McDonald's and have a happy meal, say no. Really, it's not that hard. Explain to your kids why you are saying no, whether it is because you don't want them eating the food, or you don't want crappy little toys cluttering up your life or whatever your reason.

My husband thinks the mother is right, and I think he is basing that on his disdain for McDonald's food. So don't take the kids there if you don't want them eating the stuff. I certainly never took our kids there. He pointed out that if you say no, you may be in line for a temper tantrum. So? As all parents know, kids have melt downs in grocery stores when you won't buy them candy at the checkout, or you won't get the sugary cereal because of the cartoon characters on the box, or in toy stores because you won't spend good money on something you know will break in ten minutes. We make these decisions about what is good for our kids daily. It's our job and it's called being a parent.

Our kids are constantly inundated with advertising, so you'd better teach them about it, as well as teaching them about good nutrition. But the fact is, McDonald's is recognized around the world as a family restaurant, and children are a huge part of their market and so they advertise to them. If you don't want them to go, just say no.

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