Global fastfood chain McDonald’s – not a brand most folk associate with child nutrition – has enlisted Unicef in a cause-related promotional pact that will not please those whose interest in child chow is not measured in terms of market share.
An exception to this curious confluence of interests is the UK arm of Unicef which has opted out of the promo - although it insists this is not due to the McDonald's connection. Elsewhere on the planet, 30,000 McDonald’s outlets across 121 nations will promote World Children’s Day in November, featuring activities in aid of children’s causes.
Unicef has long promulgated children's need for a balanced diet and, according to a spokesperson at its Geneva headquarters, it sees no inconsistency between this objective and working with McDonald’s. Says Unicef: “The aim of this alliance is to improve the lives of children. It does not mean we endorse fast food or the products of any company with which we have an alliance.”
McDonald’s, long the butt of criticism for promoting junk food to kids, has embarked on a programme to improve the nutritional content of its menu and is trailing several low-fat products in the UK and elsewhere.
Observes Steve Hilton, a partner at Good Business, a London based consulting firm which advises companies on how they can help themselves by helping society: “The critics of tie-ups like this forget there's no such thing as healthy or unhealthy food, just healthy or unhealthy diets.”