McDonald's announced today that they're launching a Happy Meal Campaign that includes a new health-conscious approach to the mega-chain's iconic kids meals, a challenge for children and parents to create a new nutritionally sound menu item, and a nationwide advertising campaign promoting McDonald's new healthy living philosophy.
The first part of the campaign rolls out at McDonald's locations nationwide today — now, instead of getting the option to choose healthier sides, every Happy Meal will automatically come with apple slices and the newly launched kid-size fries. Customers also have the option of swapping in an extra bag of apple slices in place of the fries.
The average calorie count for the new Happy Meal is 502.5 calories, including a choice of a hamburger, cheeseburger, or four-piece chicken nuggets and either low-fat regular or chocolate milk with fries and apple slices. The old Happy Meal had an average calorie count of 527 calories, which included whole fat chocolate milk and a larger size of fries among the heavier menu options.
Beginning March 7, McDonald's will air a series of TV commercials aimed at teaching children about the benefits of healthy living. The advertisements will feature a storytelling approach that uses animated characters to communicate with kids. The message will promote choosing healthier dining options, such as fruit and low-fat milk, as well as overall well-being beyond nutritional benefits.
Finally, the Happy Meal Chefs Contest encourages children and parents to enter for a chance to test new, nutrition-focused Happy Meal items alongside McDonald's executive chef Dan Coudreaut. The two winning families will also receive a trip to the 2012 London Olympics. Enter here through April 18 for a chance to win.
According to a statement released by McDonald's today, the goal of the Happy Meal Campaign is to "Engage families in the benefits of balanced eating and active play, aiming to make nutrition fun for kids."