Survey: McDonald's new Happy Meals gain favor with parents

<!--paging_filter--><p>In the lead-up to the rollout of its new Happy Meals, which now automatically include apple slices and kid-sized portions of French fries, McDonald&rsquo;s raised its brand perceptions among parents with young children, according to <a href="http://www.brandindex.com/article/mcdonalds-launch-healthier-happy-meals">a new study from YouGov BrandIndex</a>.</p>
<p>Ted Marzilli, senior vice president of New York-based BrandIndex, said McDonald&rsquo;s improvement from its lowest parental &ldquo;buzz score&rdquo; of 10.3 on Feb. 10, to the 26.5 figure on March 5, when it announced <a href="http://nrn.com/article/look-mcdonalds-new-happy-meal-campaign">the rollout of new Happy Meals</a>, is &ldquo;well beyond statistically significant.&rdquo; BrandIndex considers any movement greater than four to five points as meaningful.</p>
<p><em>Watch McDonald&rsquo;s new Happy Meal commercial; story continues below</em><br />
<iframe width="350" scrolling="no" height="350" frameborder="0" src="http://video.nrn.com/embed/player/B7YBPG2Q50PN7K27" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" allowtransparency="true"></iframe></p>
<p>BrandIndex calculates its buzz score by surveying 5,000 American consumers each weekday and asking, &ldquo;Have you heard anything about this brand in the past two weeks, and was it positive or negative?&rdquo; Negative responses are subtracted from positive responses, and a moving average is calculated on a scale from negative 100 to positive 100, with zero denoting neutral buzz for a brand.</p>
<p>The research firm broke out buzz scores for parents with young children living at home and noticed an increase in parental buzz scores for McDonald&rsquo;s, due in large part to its Happy Meal initiative, the company said.</p>
<p>&ldquo;Part of the recent improvement I think is because of anticipation,&rdquo; Marzilli said. &ldquo;The Happy Meals are ready to go nationally, and McDonald&rsquo;s is launching a national campaign, but the announcement was made about eight months ago.&rdquo;</p>
<p>Last July 26, when McDonald&rsquo;s announced it would <a href="http://nrn.com/article/mcds-increases-commitment-more-healthful-menu">alter its Happy Meals to meet stricter nutrition guidelines</a>, the brand&rsquo;s parental buzz score was 17.8 and stayed at a plateau around that level for months, before falling steadily beginning in late September. The brand began 2011 with a much lower parent buzz score of 8.2, <a href="http://nrn.com/article/cspi-files-suit-vs-mcd-happy-meals">having just been sued the month before by the Center for Science in the Public Interest</a>.</p>
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