McDonald Response to Criticism

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Since McDonald’s opened its doors in 1940, the restaurant has expanded to serve over 100 countries and over 50 million customers daily. McDonalds has had a strong impact worldwide and is the perfect example of globalization. Many studies such as “Golden Arches East” observe the impact of McDonald’s in East Asia, particularly Hong Kong. The franchise became a symbol of western culture with its many signature items. However, along with the incredible expansion of McDonald’s came a lot of criticism as global obesity rates, especially in children, began to rise. In 2004, McDonald’s was criticized for contributing to childhood obesity, but responded by placing nutritional information on theirproducts. In September 2002, the company insisted that it would lower the amount of trans fats in their cooking oil, but never followed through on the change. After a series of law suits, McDonald’s donated $7 million to the American Heart Association, and eventually in 2008, the company switched to a trans fat-free oil. Another response to criticism concerning nutrition occurred in 2007 when McDonald’s agreed to limit the amount of commercials directed towards children less than 12 years of age. McDonald’s claims they are “looking for ways to satisfy the diverse tastes of our customers”, and continues to respond to nutritional criticism to a certain extent. 

Below is an excerpt from an article that describes how McDonald's will make nutrition facts more available to consumers worldwide. Instead of having the information on their website, as well as in brochures available upon request in the restaurant, the facts will be visible on each individual food package. Here is an example of the Big Mac packaging with nutritional information:


Will nutrition facts on McDonald's packaging really encourage customers to be conscious of what they order? Or do we need to educate the public on what these facts really mean?

October 26, 2005

McDonald's to Add Facts on Nutrition to Packaging

CHICAGO, Oct. 25 - That Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese? It has 730 calories. A Sausage Biscuit With Egg? It will use up 49 percent of an adult's daily recommended fat intake.
That information and more will be on the packaging of most McDonald's food items starting next year, the company announced at a news conference in a Chicago restaurant Tuesday. The nutrition labeling, which is intended to be even easier to read than the labels on packaged foods, will tell customers how many calories, grams of fat, protein, carbohydrates and sodium are in each product and will include a chart showing the percentage of the government's recommended daily intakes.
Such information is already available to consumers in brochures in McDonald's restaurants and on the company's Web site. But McDonald's executives said Tuesday that they had decided to make it more available and more accessible to customers. "This format makes it easier to understand and to read our nutrition information," said Cathy Kapica, global director of nutrition at McDonald's.
McDonald's said the new packaging would be in 20,000 of its 30,000 restaurants worldwide by the end of 2006.
The move comes as McDonald's, the world's largest restaurant company, continues to face criticism for contributing to rising obesity rates and other health problems.
It has also been sued by customers who claimed they became fat by eating McDonald's foods, although only one case is still pending. In addition, McDonald's was the subject of "Super Size Me," a movie released in 2004 in which the filmmaker Morgan Spurlock chronicled the nutritional dangers of eating too much fast food...


The leadership of Ronald McDonald: Double narration and stylistic lines of transformationstar, open
David M. BojeaCorresponding Author Contact InformationE-mail The Corresponding Author and Carl RhodesbE-mail The Corresponding Author

aNew Mexico State University, Mexico
bUniversity of Technology, Sydney, Australia

Available online 28 November 2005. 


This research note reports a study of Ronald McDonald's leadership. The argument is that rather than just being a spokesperson or marketing device for the McDonald's corporation, Ronald performs an important transformational leadership function. Ronald's recent restylization as a nutrition–fitness leader is part of McDonald's most daring organizational transformation. Using the Bakhtinian theory of double narration, we argue that while Ronald is crafted by the actual leaders of McDonald's, his leadership exceeds official corporate narratives because of the cultural meanings associated with his character as a clown. This clown persona has enabled Ronald to emerge as a leader along two interrelated lines of organizational stylistic transformation: from epic to novelistic corporation and from purveyor of unhealthy foods to a nutrition–fitness enterprise.

This is an article about how McDonald's has responded to criticism in the past. In response to increasing obesity rates and nutritional concerns, the company changed the image of Ronald McDonald into a health and fitness expert rather than a promotor of unhealthy foods. In 2004, the company launched Ronald McDonald's "Fitness Fun" program encouraging Malaysian children to stay fit by eating right and exercising regularly:

This is an experpt from McDonald's website about the program: 

“Fitness Fun” with Ronald McDonald 

In 2004, McDonald's officially launched "Fitness Fun" with Ronald McDonald which aims to encourage young Malaysian children to live a healthy balanced lifestyle. The new Ronald McDonald show is a 45-minute fitness program aimed at cultivating a balanced lifestyle focusing on healthy eating habits and fitness exercise among young children.

This program was developed with the hands-on support and guidance from experts with the objective of educating children on the importance of a balanced diet that contains a variety of food taken in moderation. It also teaches children that exercising can be fun and having a good fitness level enables us to have continuous fun. With Ronald McDonald , McDonald's Chief Happiness Officer at the helm, the program incorporates a creative mix of music, magic and physical exercise.

"Fitness Fun" with Ronald McDonald is McDonald's unique way of increasing awareness amongst children to make them realize that our health is our responsibility.
This is the link to the full page:
Here is a commercial for the "Fitness Fun" happy meal:


McDonald's agreed to limit the amount of commercials directed to a young demographic in response to rising childhood obesity rates. 
Here is a commercial from 1985 capturing "Ronald McDonald Working Out":

Did this give off the message that exercise is important for proper health?

Another commercial from 2010 incorporates famous athletes:

Here are some clips from Japanese ads in which the beginning ones incorporate sports:

In addition to advertising, McDonald's has created their vision on the "Balanced Active Lifestyle" which incorporates three initiatives:
1. Increasing menu choice
2. Providing access to nutritional information
3. Encouraging physical fitness

2010 Olympic Day Run in Malaysia brought thousands of people out to participate:
ODR_Highlights_04.jpg“McDonald’s is an Official Partner of the Olympic Games and has been staging the Olympic Day Run at a global level to showcase the spirit of ‘Olympism’. We’re also dedicated to promoting a balanced, active lifestyle amongst the public and this global event is a manifestation of our commitment to creating a higher awareness on the importance of leading an active lifestyle in the interest of our overall well-being,“ said Stephen Chew, Vice-President of Marketing, Communications & Consumer / Business Insights of McDonald’s Malaysia.

Here is a link to each item's nutritional information on the McDonald's menu:

There is also a calorie counter given by McDonald's for consumer convenience.


McDonald's has been a major target for criticism concerning obesity rates worldwide, but especially in the United States. Considering the changes that the corporation has made such as placing nutrition facts on each food item and limiting advertisements directed to young children, do you think that McDonald's should be criticized repeatedly for contributing to increasing obesity rates? What is it about McDonald's, as opposed to other fast-food restaurants, that makes this criticism surface mostly in our country?