Are McDonald’s Happy Meals making parents unhappy? Apparently, the current gift with purchase has raised a few eyebrows.

Happy Meals, which feature under the “Kid’s Choice” segment of the McDonald’s website, currently come with “wicked tunes”. Along with your favourite food “you will receive one of six funky music sticks which play 29sec of looped music from a great range of artists”, says Maccas.

Questions have been raised about the appropriateness of one of the song choices. My eight- and ten-year-old daughters have been singing “4Eva” by The Veronicas “non-stop for the past few days”, says Crikey reader Brendan Parkinson, “oblivious to the real meaning of the lyrics”:

Come on baby we ain’t gonna live forever
Let me show you all the things that we could do
You know you wanna be together
And I wanna spend the night with you
Yeah Yeah,
With you,
Yeah Yeah
Come with me tonight
We could make the night last forever

“I don’t think this one will make it into the end-of-year school play,” he comments. In fact “I find the whole thing a little creepy”. After all, Happy Meals are “squarely aimed at toddlers and young children”.

But McDonald’s says it’s only giving kids what they want – and already listen to. When we selected the music, “we chose tunes that were popular with children of this age group, ie approx four to seven,” a McDonald’s spokeswoman told Crikey, noting that The Veronicas won the “Fave Aussie Group” category of the 2006 Nickelodeon Australian Kids’ Choice Awards.

In August, McDonald’s drew the ire of environment groups in the US when the behemoth launched “HUMMER of a Summer” Happy Meals in association with General Motors, giving children “one of eight powerful, fun-fuelled miniature HUMMER vehicles”.

McD’s VP Bob Langert called for calm: “Looked at through children’s eyes, the miniature Hummers are just toys, not vehicle recommendations or a source of consumer messages about natural resource conservation, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.”

Fair enough. It’s not like McDonald’s to try and influence a generation of consumers.

Peter Fray

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