Monday, November 19, 2012

The Big and Fast Fooding of Thanksgiving and Santa Claus Parades

My close friend Brad sent me a photo from his local Hamiltonian Santa Claus parade. It was of the happy gang of McDonald's mascots.

And indeed - pretty much every holiday parade comes replete with fast food mascots in float or balloon form.

Of all the holiday parades, none's bigger than Macy's and according to Wikipedia, over the years the Macy's Parade has included the following fast food balloons and floats:
  • Ronald McDonald (3 different versions including the one pictured up above)
  • The Pillsbury Doughboy
  • M&Ms
  • Kraft KD's Cheeseasaurus Rex
  • The Honey Nut Cheerios Bee
  • The Nesquick Bunny
  • The Kool-Aid Man
  • Jell-O
  • Goldfish on Parade (the crackers)
  • Hamburger Helper
  • Jimmy Dean
  • Oceanspray
Interestingly, I can only find reference to branded foods' Macy's inclusion from 1987 onwards.

Nearer to me Toronto is the home to a truly world famous Santa Claus parade.

Its current sponsors include: McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Redpath Sugar, Nestle's Turtles, Kraft Foods, Tim Horton's, Plantars Peanuts, Shopsy's Deli, and Villagio White Bread.

And when I simply googled iconic fast food brands and parades, thousands of pictures came up. Those pictures included this one of a Coca-Cola float from the 2007 Rogers Santa Claus parade - this from the same Coca-Cola company that regularly claims it doesn't market Coca-Cola to kids. Guess they thought the parade was geared to Santa loving adults.

So if you're a parent, and if you're keen on trying to reduce your children's exposure to fast food branding, you'll have to have your kids sit out your local Santa Claus parade.


Is there anywhere or anything out there geared towards kids that the food industry hasn't co-opted to market their brands?

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  1. It's not even subtle!

  2. Here in the Germanic part of Europe there are several parade type things at which you will never see CC, PC, McD or any of their little friends. It starts with November 11th and St Martin on a horse when they will be given one Brezen or Lebkuechen between 2 to learn to share as he did. Then comes St Nicolaus and his goodies. It's the Christchild who brings pressies on Dec 24th with nuts and oranges still and the Three Kings turn up on Jan 6th. And the Christmas markets rejoice in chestnuts, gluehwein and fairly generic sweetmeats. Even Carnival generally doesn't get contaminated by them - just political items and small sweets to throw.

    All is not lost...

  3. It should not surprise anyone that Coca Cola would participate in a Santa Claus parade.

    Historically speaking, Coca Cola has perennially featured Santa in its marketing / branding since the 1920s. In fact, it can be argued that Coca Cola was significantly influential in popularising and shaping the modern image of Santa Claus, via the ubiquitous Haddon Sundblom ads starting in 1931.

    At any rate, there is a long standing association of Santa Claus with Coca Cola -- this is not a new trend. [whether this is incongruous with Coke's stated corporate policy of 'not marketing to children' is a different question...]