You read that correctly. The company that is more famous for headlines about selling pink slime as meat, is combatting their reputation with wearable technology.
For the record, we’re not saying McDonald’s is all pink slime. Taste preferences aside, they serve plenty of menu items which aren’t too bad on the nutrient scale. For many people, a burger from McDonald’s has fewer calories than the “healthy” food they eat, but this is off topic somewhat.
In any event, for a limited time at select locations, Happy Meals come stuffed with swanky fitness trackers. This is part of the new McDonald’s. They’ve made a concerted effort in recent years to change public opinion about their product.
In recent news, they’ve switched to sources of chicken not treated with antibiotics and removing artificial ingredients, dyes and corn syrup from menu items where they can.
This move, however, hits consumers where it counts; right in the kids.
These are no Polar M600. Don’t expect features like GPS from this piece of plastic. They do, however, come in six different colors. This way your kids can bug you until they have each color because that matters to fitness.
What the trackers do is count steps and blink. The blinking relates to the speed of the wearer. Not bad, Micky D’s, not bad at all. This way they can trick children into moving faster. We see what you did there.
While we have no hands-on experience, the device doesn’t look like it will win any top ten lists anytime soon. It’s been manufactured by the lowest bidder, intended to last as long as possible, but your child won’t be taking it to college.
What will be curious to see is if those same kids beg for Fitbits later.
For all the obvious reasons, this isn’t the first stab corporate Mcdonald’s has thrust at the happiest meal on the planet. They’ve decreased the portions, added yogurt and fruit options instead of fries.
The tracker is another step in that direction, of creating the perception that these aren’t your father’s Happy Meal. Today’s Happy Meals aim to make both parents and kids happy.
The double whammy, for anyone who knows about such things, McDonald’s prizes went from cool to drool sometime during the late 80’s. That was around the time they started offering promotional toys that cost more money.
Now, they’ve baked the cost of the fitness tracker into the price of the Happy Meal. To this child of the eighties, it’s clear the dark days of Happy Meals have ended.
McDonald’s would be an easy target for a site aimed at hacking your body, but we’ll take the high road.
One perspective is that McDonald’s is a product demanded by the market. People buy their cheap food, so they make more of it.
The other perspective is that they have lowered the bar on what passes for food, blurring the transparency of what they sell. Perhaps.
While their response time may be slow, it seems that McDonald’s execs are getting the message. Making dirt cheap food won’t pass the test anymore. That they continue to move the bar the other direction, offering people a price point they can afford, we have to commend their efforts.
People love the tale of the fallen hero only slightly less than they love a comeback story. McDonald’s knows this.
We award points to Micky D’s for adding wearables to their Happy Meals. This generation of kids will grow up comfortable with data. They’ll be better analysts than previous generations.
Tracking results, planning for improvements will be part of their zeitgeist.