Amelia Freidline, Fresh Take
Amelia Freidline, Fresh Take

Fast-food giant McDonald’s spends a lot of time and money making sure it stays in the public eye.

A May 4 article in The New York Times put the chain’s advertising budget at more than $2 billion.

Their slick-looking billboards along the highway are hard to miss, and I’d almost be tempted to try their summer Cherry Berry Chiller if I could solve the ad’s word scramble without fear of driving off the road.

I also can’t check social media sites like Facebook without seeing ads asking whether I’ve eaten at McDonald’s recently and if I’m going to “revolt,” as they put it, and visit the Golden Arches for lunch.

McDonald’s is aggressive about giving off a fun, family-friendly, genuine vibe, especially with concerns about nutrition and childhood obesity casting a shadow over the fast-food industry.

Some of its recent menu revamps, such as adding apple slices to Happy Meals by default, are an inarguable step in the right direction of getting kids and adults alike to eat more fresh produce.

On May 7, the Oakbrook, Ill.-based company rolled out a banana-walnut oatmeal topped with blueberries.

Naturipe Farms’ executive vice president of marketing Robert Verloop told Packer writer Coral Beach his firm is supplying fresh berries for the oatmeal.

While it’s disappointing McDonald’s chose to use dried crushed bananas instead of fresh, the 1.25 ounces of fresh blueberries are a welcome alternative to the sweetened, dried berries they could have used.

Let’s hope the promotion, which is scheduled to last through Aug. 3, proves so popular the company makes it a permanent menu item.

You call that a serving?

For every good idea that makes the cut and makes it out to consumers, though, it seems like there’s a flop.

Maybe that’s one of the unwritten rules of marketing.

In England, McDonald’s is set for a May 16 release of Fruitizz, a fizzy, “healthy” kids’ drink.

The drink, The Telegraph reports, “contains no added sugars, artificial colors or flavors and blends 60% fruit juice from grapes, apples and raspberries with natural sparkling water.”

According to The Telegraph and Huffington Post UK, McDonald’s says kids can count Fruitizz as one of their daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

OK, sparkling water and fruit juice sound good to me. But while McDonald’s really might have kids’ health in mind with this drink, it seems like pitching it as a serving of produce is only a bad idea.

I can just see some enterprising child thinking “If I drink this little cup of Fruitizz and it’s a serving of fruit ... then I can drink a bigger cup and won’t have to eat the carrot sticks that came with my Happy Meal!”

According to The Telegraph, a 16-ounce cup of Fruitizz has 200 calories and 49 grams of sugar. The Packer’s Produce Availability and Merchandising Guide says one medium peach has 60 calories and 13 grams of sugar.

McDonald’s, I appreciate that you have a large marketing budget, but if you’re going to spend all that money, make sure it’s on a message that makes sense.

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