McDonalds latest kids’ character promotion isn’t revolving around its Happy Meal burgers and fries but rather its Apple Dippers in the U.S., and other fruit and veggie side dishes abroad.

McDonald's uses Shrek to spark Apple Dipper interest

Courtesy McDonald's Corp.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based quick-service chain teamed up with DreamWorks Animation for a promotion surrounding the newest Shrek movie, “Shrek Ever After,” which hits theaters May 21.

The promotion encourages kids to “Shrek Out” their Happy Meals with menu options like fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy and fruit juices, according to a McDonald’s news release.

Shrek has been a part of McDonald’s promotions before, for the first time in 2007, after McDonalds ended a 10-year marketing agreement with Disney. The green ogre and his clan of co-stars were used to promote fruit and vegetables, as well as dairy, in that partnership as well, according to the release.

“Three years ago Shrek helped us launch our biggest worldwide promotion of fruit, vegetables and dairy,” said Dean Barrett, senior vice president, McDonald’s global marketing, in the release. “Now he’s back, with his famous friends, to help us communicate the great taste and fun of these foods in new and even more impactful ways.”

Barrett went on to say the company expects the response to the Happy Meal choice items, such as Apple Dippers, to be greater than ever. It is pushing a “great taste” message through Shrek-themed packaging, point-of-purchase materials and kids’ eye level, commercials and social media.

Half of the Happy Meals sold worldwide are ordered with an alternative to the fries and soda —either a fruit or vegetable side or a milk, juice or water option — according to the release.

Although U.S. restaurants’ produce side dish offerings are limited to Apple Dippers, which are fresh-cut apple slices that come with caramel sauce, McDonald’s locations around the world serve corn cups, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and fruit bags with apple slices and grapes.

The promotion’s online feature includes new music videos, games and activities for kids at www.fun.mcdonalds.com. The Shrek-themed activities and the music videos include messaging about fruits and vegetables, according to the release.

The restaurant tycoon is also adding nutrition information to its Web site for parents, and is scheduled to have a redesigned food and nutrition resource center up by May 18, according to the release.