McDonald's taps 'Shrek' for kids nutrition effort

OAK BROOK, IL: McDonald's is channeling the forever-young appeal of Dreamworks' Shrek the Third to encourage kids to stay active and make informed eating choices.

OAK BROOK, IL: McDonald's is channeling the forever-young appeal of Dreamworks' Shrek the Third to encourage kids to stay active and make informed eating choices.

The global effort, launched May 11 in Chicago, highlights a Happy Meal featuring Chicken McNuggets, Apple Dippers fresh fruit snacks, and a Shrek character toy, as well as more parent-focused menu items, such as salads and chicken sandwiches.

In particular, the campaign is the "single biggest global promotion" of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk in the company's history, noted Shannelle Armstrong, McDonald's Oak Brook, IL-based manager of US communications.

The company has offered more health-conscious menu items since 2005. Last year it introduced the option for children to substitute apples for French fries in their Happy Meals.

Now, Armstrong said, "We're asking kids to really go for those great choices," in part by making them available in child-friendly, Shrek-themed packaging.

The "very integrated" effort includes concentrated PR components featuring creative and messaging in English, Spanish, and three Asian languages meant to promote McDonald's call for families to "Go for Green," added Armstrong. Outreach also extends to print, broadcast, radio, point-of-purchase, and digital.

Consumers "will see one Shrek message," Armstrong said, in all of the company's PR, marketing, and advertising activity.

To complement in-restaurant promotions, McDonald's has launched an interactive digital community meant to educate kids about the importance of staying physically active. Kids can "log in" time spent being active - dancing, playing soccer or kickball - and redeem acquired activity points for online downloads, such as screensavers and IM buddy icons.

McDonald's will also extend the promotion internationally. Shrek the Third tie-ins are expected to appear in more than 100 countries, according to the company.

Efforts will range from limited-edition collector's glasses (North America) and "Far Far Away Pasta Happy Meals" (Australia), to "Fiona" salads (Latin America) and Shrek ears to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities (Hong Kong and Russia).

Notwithstanding the "Go for Green" campaign's emphasis on recreation and healthy menu choices, Armstrong said, there may still be a place in one's diet for McDonaldland desserts and fries.

"You want to be able to educate kids and families about all their options," she said.

McDonald's collaborated with JSH&A Public Relations on the PR component of the Shrek promotion launch. The company also worked with multicultural agencies Valencia, Perez & Echeveste, IW Group, and Burrell Communications.

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