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Do You Want Lies with That? McDonald’s Will Say Anything to Get Your Business

mcds

McDonald’s recently reassured investors during a conference call that it’s going to address its declining sales by boosting efforts to attract parents, teachers and school children despite national efforts to keep fast food away from children.

According to Civil Eats: “Among the strategies discussed on the call was a need to ‘start with mom’ by continuing the company’s  ‘McTeacher’s Nights,’ i.e., school fundraisers in which teachers are put to work at a local McDonald’s restaurant and a portion of the night’s proceeds benefit the school.”

McDonald’s President Mike Andres pressed the urgency on the call, stating that the chain’s franchise owners “have got to be in the schools. When you look at the performance relative to peers of the operators [whose] restaurants are part of the community–it’s significant. So we’re celebrating that…this is an essential part of being an McDonald’s owner operator. This is our heritage. And schools are a big piece of it.”

But over the last several years, specifically during the Obama administration in which First Lady Michelle Obama has been focused on improving the health and food choice of the nation’s children, fast food hasn’t been welcome in schools. And for good reason. Fast food and sugary soft drinks are two of the biggest contributors to the nation’s obesity epidemic.

And it gets even weirder. Again, Civil Eats:

But the most troubling aspect of McDonald’s plan is that it flatly contradicts statements made on the corporation’s behalf before the federal government regarding the intent and impact of such in-school marketing.

Yep. Back in February, the USDA issued new rules that would ban marketing on school campuses by companies like McDonald’s, and that means its McTeacher’s Nights and other events the company just said need a refocus of energy are not permitted. “This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has engaged in high-level corporate double-speak when it comes to its in-school marketing practices,” Civil Eats explains.

And it’s probably not the last, either. The company is desperately attempting to stay relevant and boost its sales and it seems that rather than clean up its menu and its supply chain and offer healthier, better food, it’s just going to continue to look for the most impressionable potential customers and lure them any way it can.

Image: mynameisharsha

5 comments
  1. Jo Borras

    I still don’t understand the vilification of McDonald’s. The company gives millions to worthwhile charities and schools, which should be applauded. Further, I think McTeacher’s Nights give back to the community schools and educate the teachers in the area about the kinds of part-time/after school jobs their students probably have, and if they come back with a positive take on the food they’ve had hands-on experience with then that seems like it’s a good thing for all involved. As for fast food and sugary drinks being contributors to the nation’s obesity epidemic, man- that is one step away from blaming the spoon for making someone fat, you know?

    1. Jill

      Not at all like blaming the spoon. McDonald’s and other fast food companies have intentionally turned marketing efforts towards low-income families and communities. Giving money to charities that may be supporting people who are injured by the very foods McDonald’s sells is outrageous. It’s insulting. It’s like Monsanto’s sustainability initiative. Want to do good for the planet? Just stop poisoning it. Want to do good for people? Same rule. Stop poisoning them. Selling healthier food in the first place that doesn’t pollute the planet and hurt our children as well as supporting charities and schools is where McDonald’s needs to be. This is the first time in history that our children are expected to live shorter lives than us. No Big Mac can justify that.

      1. Jo Borras

        I totally disagree. It’s not like McDonald’s is only marketing towards low-income families- go pick whatever mall is “swanky” in your neck of the woods. I’ll bet that there’s a McDonald’s nearby, and I’ll bet that the company has spent some serious money making it look like a cafe, bistro, or other such hangout.

        As for people being injured by their foods, that’s total BS.

        That’s cool, though- playing along with you, what food is better for our children? The beef and potatoes sold at McDonald’s and shipped across the US in emissions-controlled, fuel-efficient trucks and hybrid trains, or “certified” organic food from Whole Foods that’s grown in China, moved to the coasts by coal-burning rail, then shipped by massive diesel freighter across the Pacific, displacing thousands of tons of CO2?

        Obviously, locally-grown fruits and vegetables are better for you than Happy Meals, but I don’t think anyone (including McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc.) is stating otherwise. What they *are* doing is offering a product to people that they seem to want. Not a crime. Not immoral. Not even “bad”.

        1. Jill

          Well that sounds slightly naive, Jo! People “seem to want” foods that are cheap and appeal to their primal appetite for salt, sugar and fat because once we taste it we want more. Science has proven that and our nation’s obesity and diabetes epidemics support those findings.

          And in excess, in McDonald’s food for example, these foods are not healthy at all ( a new study just found kids who eat fast food even just once a week perform worse on tests), and these companies are doing everything they can to get people to eat their food products in excess. No economic class is immune to the marketing work of fast food, but when you don’t have much money to spend on food, you have fewer options. So these companies know that and put more marketing efforts towards lower economic classes. There are studies to back that up.

          As to Whole Foods buying organic from China, that’s an unfair hyperbolic misrepresentation. There may be a few items from China in the stores, but it’s the exception, not the rule. The chain has a huge focus on local produce and what it does import can now be rated on a new produce system that takes many factors into consideration like labor and sustainability initiatives. Whole Foods employs fuel-efficient trucks as well and is very focused on local communities and local foods that are so much cleaner, better for the environment and the animals than anything at McDonald’s or other chains. Not sure why you feel the need to attack a grocery store to defend fast food…but there is no comparison between the CO2 emissions of the millions of conventional cows and chickens and pigs raised for McDonald’s to the small-scale co-op organic farmers that supply Organic Valley or Niman Ranch, two of the bigger animal product brands in Whole Foods. McDonald’s is also creating unthinkable amounts of trash with its takeaway containers, bags, cups, etc…how can you compare that to buying fresh ingredients from a supermarket?

          McDonald’s probably didn’t start out as “immoral” but it’s not doing anybody any favors these days. It can’t even pay its employees living wages while CEOs make millions. It’s polluting the planet, animals and people, whether or not we “want” its food.

          I really think people deserve more credit than what most companies are offering us. We’re easily tempted by foods (products/services) that are inherently bad for us. But we’re also easily motivated and inspired to eat well, exercise and take care of ourselves, each other and the planet. We need more companies focused on bringing us all to our potential–not to our weaknesses. And McDonald’s for one, is not doing that with anitbiotic-filled GMO $1 hamburgers. We deserve better.

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