The Golden Arches

Posted on August 9, 2007

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This week, we’ve seen a lot of hype about this study from Stanford and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  What is says: That preschoolers nearly ALWAYS think food in McDonalds packaging tastes better than the same food when it’s generically wrapped.  Now, being the aunt of many preschool-aged children, I have no problem believing this.  It’s like some sort of Pavlovian response – they start drooling anytime you drive by a McD’s.

Clearly this reaction is a response to McDonald’s marketing and branding efforts rather than the quality of their food.  But my question would be this: who is the company targeting?  While they’re reaching a great audience of potential lifetime customers, I would argue that it’s the parents who are most affected.  At the end of the day, it’s really the parents of the world that are fueling their childrens’ addictions to McDonalds.  Someone has to drive the kids to the restaurant (read: crazy playhouse that I try to stay as far away from as possible), and more importantly the parents I know position a trip to McDs as a treat for the kids.  So, I guess when you look at it that way, the parents of the world are really just secret marketing agents for McDonalds.

On an almost unrelated note, I’m calling this out as the quote of the day (from a recent Onion press release):

"The news business is like the tobacco business: you want to reach new readers at as young and impressionable an age as possible," Onion president Sean Mills said. "MySpace was, of course, a natural partner in that regard."

I think it applies to the fast food industry as well…

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