McDonald’s launches ‘The Meal’: new integrated campaign removes the iconic smile from Happy Meal boxes® for the first time ever to mark Mental Health Awareness Week

McDonald’s UK and communications agency Ready10, together with Leo Burnett UK, today launch ‘The Meal’, a 360-degree, integrated campaign which removes the iconic smile from millions of Happy Meal® boxes to help spark family conversations about emotions during Mental Health Awareness Week (May 13th to 19th). 

The multi-channel campaign follows research commissioned by McDonald’s which reveals that almost half (48%) of UK children feel like they must be happy all the time, even if they do not want to be. 

McDonald’s has created and distributed 2.5 million limited-edition Happy Meal® boxes to over 1,400 McDonald’s restaurants across the country. Selected locations will also receive stickers showcasing an array of emotions children experience, allowing kids to communicate how they are feeling by placing stickers directly onto the boxes. 

The campaign has been developed in partnership with BBC Children in Need, and a dedicated hub has been designed to provide families with access to a whole host of resources to encourage candid conversations on emotional well-being with children. The hub will be available to access via a QR code on the limited-edition Happy Meal® boxes, as well as via the McDonald’s website and social media channels. 

Launching the campaign is a short film directed by Jake Mavity, through Rogue Films. The two-minute film showcases the importance of children openly expressing the range of emotions they feel. The film begins with a range of children reacting to being handed an expressionless Happy Meal box. The children choose from a range of expression stickers to place on their Happy Meal box, prompting each child to explore and discuss their own emotions. The film will run from May 13th to 19th.

The voiceover for the film was provided by football legend and broadcaster Rio Ferdinand, who was recruited by Ready10 to front the campaign as someone familiar with having to tackle conversations around emotions with children. Drawing on his own personal parenting experiences, Ferdinand participated in photography, media interviews and social media amplification to support the campaign, as well as providing the voiceover for the launch film. 

A comprehensive media plan across OOH, social and SFVOD will support the creative, with a variety of parenting influencers recruited to provide their own viewpoint on family conversations around conveying emotion. 

Louise Page, Head of Consumer Comms and Partnerships, McDonald’s says: “We know how important it is to help stimulate open conversations about mental health in families, and through this change to our Happy Meal® box, we hope many more families are encouraged to kickstart positive conversations around children’s emotions and wellbeing.”

Kate Addy, Managing Partner, Ready10 says: “The Happy Meal® smile is one of McDonald’s most iconic brand marks and we knew suggesting it was removed from the boxes would be a big ask, but we were delighted when McDonald’s also saw the potential to positively impact millions of children with this important campaign. We know the insight at the heart of the idea is one that will resonate with families across the country, and it’s been a privilege to create something which will encourage children and parents to be more open about their emotions.”

Andrew Long and James Millers, Executive Creative Directors, Leo Burnett UK, said: “Happy Meal® is all about bringing families together, and to do that it’s important we’re open with all our emotions. By using the most famous children’s meal in the country to deliver this message, we hope this populist campaign will reach and resonate with families across the nation, and foster important conversations around children’s mental health.”   

Fozia Irfan OBE, Director of Impact and Influence at BBC Children in Need, says: “Mental Health Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to shine a light on the vital impact we can make on children and young people’s mental wellbeing and we are thrilled to be working with McDonald’s to provide the necessary support parents and families may need to start the conversations with their children.”

Ready10 developed the idea, working with Leo Burnett to build the campaign, with Ready10 being responsible for PR, talent and influencer recruitment, and Leo Burnett developing the creative executions and website build. OMD UK handled all media planning and buying, with CRM by Armadillo.

Source: Ready10

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