Thursday, May 10, 2007

Shrek - Obesity Crusader and McNugget Salesman

Here's a story that's been all over the news.

Dreamworks, a company always willing to pimp out its characters to promote fast food, sold the right to the use of Shrek to the US Department of Health and Human Services to promote anti-obesity messages to children.

Sounds good right?

Here's their first video:

They've even got a website where the various Shrek characters talk about ways to improve childhood fitness and health.

Then two days ago, McDonald's announced that they're also sleeping with Shrek and that he and his friends will be involved in McDonald's single biggest promotion of fruit, vegetables and low fat milk.

But don't kid yourself - it's not just about fruit, vegetables and milk. Here's the quote from the press release,
"The campaign showcases a variety of food choices including Premium Salads, Premium Chicken Sandwiches, fun desserts and a Happy Meal featuring Chicken McNuggets(R) Made with White Meat, Apple Dippers (fresh, peeled apple slices with optional low-fat caramel dipping sauce), and low-fat white or chocolate Milk Jugs served in child-friendly containers with Shrek packaging to encourage consumption."

Yup, nothing healthier than deep fried chicken pieces washed down with chocolate milk and fruit dipped in caramel sugar. Oh, and get this, for a limited time they will be selling limited edition 16oz Shrek glasses. That's a healthy serving size!

Want a great quobesity and an example of someone who's been bought?

Straight from the press release,
"I'm impressed with McDonald's worldwide commitment to promote activity, encourage balanced food choices and doing this in a fun and engaging way," noted Dr. Michele Borba, internationally recognized parenting expert, educator, and member of McDonald's Global Moms Advisory Panel. "This is very consistent with the counsel that the Mom's Panel has been giving McDonald's. It's clear they are listening."
Thanks Shrek. Thanks Dreamworks. Thanks sellout Dr. Borba. You're all the greatest.

Let me ask you a question - do you think that the kids (and frankly the parents) who watch commercials from the US Department of Health and Human Services are savvy enough to differentiate the healthy Shrek message from the McDonald's commercials? Do you think that maybe, just maybe, they will simply associate Shrek with health and consequently McDonald's with healthy choices?

An absolute coup for McDonald's.

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  1. Theresa9:34 am

    This just makes me sick! Mc D's, BK or any of the others will one day have these kids on their staff payrolls and when they see the health premiums they'll wonder what happened to North America.

  2. Excellent blog - but Shrek is NOT a Disney character... Shrek is a Dreamworks Animation character meant to rival Disney animation.

  3. Thanks for the correction - have made it in the post.


  4. RuddCenter4:32 pm

    Thought you would be interested to see this AP article reporting that the advocacy group The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has written a letter to the HHS requesting that they pull the Shrek ads due to McDonald's promotion.

    The group, which is headed by a Professor at Harvard, also noted that Shrek 3 is being used to promote other unhealthful food choices, including: Mars Inc.'s Snickers and M&M's candy; PepsiCo Inc.'s Sierra Mist drink; and Kellogg Co.'s Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Pop-Tarts, Cheez-Its and Keebler cookies.

    The HHS responded that they are using Shrek to promote exercise, not food.

    It is interesting to compare this with the USDA's food pyramid, which stresses exercise, but provides unintelligble dietary advice, replacing food groups with a rainbow. Eat what you want as long as you exercise, they seem to be saying.

  5. The last time I checked, obesity among animated characters was not considered a national crisis. When it comes to make believe diets, I'm putting McDonald's at the top of my list.

    Mr. Besilly