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Marketing and Comms
McDonald's USA Introduces 'Happy,' Who Will Hopefully Encourage Kids to Eat Healthier

McDonald’s USA announced this week it is offering new incentives for kids to eat healthier – with the addition of yogurt as a new side option for Happy Meals and the unveiling of “Happy,” the company’s new Happy Meal brand ambassador.

McDonald’s says “Happy” is intended to bring “fun and excitement to kids’ meals while also serving as an ambassador for balanced and wholesome eating.” Happy will officially be introduced nationwide May 23, and will encourage kids to enjoy fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and wholesome beverages such as water or juice.

Unfortunately, a sneak peek at “Happy” through social media hasn’t generated much fun and excitement, as evidenced by Alexandra Petri’s Washington Post headline, “The terrifying McDonald’s Happy Meal mascot is a hideous demon creature.” The character, which resembles a red box with arms, legs and eyes, got a similar amount of love from the Daily Mail, which called it “A deterrent to both appetite and sleep.”

Happy was introduced in France in 2009 and has since then been “loved and well-received by children and families in Latin America and Europe,” as McDonald’s spokesperson Lisa McComb told Reuters on Tuesday. Whether or not Happy actually makes kids in the US happy will soon be seen.

These new additions are the latest examples of McDonald’s USA’s ongoing dedication to children’s nutrition and well-being as part of its commitment, announced last September at the Clinton Global Initiative, to increase customers' access to fruit and vegetables and help families and children to make informed food choices in keeping with balanced lifestyles — complete with healthier side and beverage options, as well as a series of Happy Meal books encouraging children to eat right and be more active.

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