Advertising Standards Bureau slaps McDonald's for offering free fries vouchers to children at SPC Ardmona KidsTown.JENNA BISHOP August 1, 2014 3:55am
A complaint against fast-food giant McDonald’s has been upheld by the Australian advertising watchdog after vouchers for free fries were handed out to children at SPC Ardmona KidsTown.
The voucher entitled people to a free small fries with the purchase of any menu item at McDonald’s Shepparton South, Shepparton City, Shepparton North, Echuca and Mooroopna.
The Obesity Policy Coalition put in a complaint on June 17 to the Advertising Standards Bureau, saying the vouchers did not meet responsible advertising to represent healthier dietary choices.
The voucher was withdrawn once McDonald’s became aware of the complaint.
Coalition executive manager Jane Martin said the voucher would create ‘‘pester power’’, with children wanting to go to McDonald’s.
‘‘Under the Quick Service Restaurant Initiative guidelines, the fries don’t meet the requirements so they can’t be promoted to children,’’ she said.
Ms Martin said in such a big company, there should be more responsibility for advertising less healthy foods.
‘‘We know regional rates of obesity are greater than metropolitan rates,’’ she said.
‘‘People in the area or who drive past know there’s a lot of McDonald’s in the area. Often they’re on major roads. It’s pretty hard to ignore.’’
Greater Shepparton City Council community director Kaye Thomson said the discontinued vouchers were part of a KidsTown program where those who made a donation received a sponsored voucher.
‘‘The discontinued vouchers have been replaced with an offer where children can redeem the vouchers for an SPC Ardmona product, McDonald’s fruit bags or a McDonald’s grilled chicken snack wrap, all healthy options,’’ she said.
Ms Thomson said KidsTown had an ongoing sponsorship arrangement with local McDonald’s franchises as well as many other local organisations including SPC Ardmona, Bunnings, J. Furphy and Sons and The News, which allowed the adventure playground to develop.
‘‘Partnering with the private sector is critical to the ongoing operation of KidsTown,’’ she said.
McDonald’s corporate communications manager Chris Grant told The News the advertisement was not approved according to McDonald’s responsible marketing to children policy.
‘‘As a founding member of the Quick Service Restaurant Industry Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children we take our responsibility as an advertiser seriously and were disappointed to learn of this complaint,’’ Mr Grant said.
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