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McDonald’s Happy Meals Now Offer eBooks Instead Of Toys

McDonald’s Happy Meals Now Offer eBooks Instead Of Toys
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Through a partnership with the National Literacy Trust, McDonald's is hoping to fortify children's minds.

Rachel Pincus
  • 1 may 2014

Today’s young adults probably remember the massive fast food toy promotions of the 90’s, with various fad-related toys like Pokémon and Beanie Babies hotly anticipated and even held on to as collectibles. However, today’s trends, with so many kids enjoying the benefits of their parents’ (or their own) smart devices, has brought the biggest rewards for loyalty into the virtual world. McDonald’s, at least, sees this as an opportunity to portray their product for children as more edifying and wholesome, which they’ve done in the past by through efforts to make the Happy Meal healthier. Now it’s time to feed the mind: in the UK this month, they’re offering free downloads of eBooks from Enid Blyton’s ‘Secret Seven’ series courtesy of Kobo. This will temporarily turn McDonald’s into the largest book distributor in the UK.

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The promotion is tied to Britain’s National Literacy Trust. Earlier this year, the Trust gave out physical books, providing a choice between DK’s Amazing World series and vouchers that allowed kids to pick out their books at national retailer W.H. Smith. This month, however, the chain is getting with the times. “Kids today have come to know and expect content in digital form and introducing free e-books to the Happy Meal is another way in which we’re creating choice and keeping in step with our customers,” explained Alistair Macrow, SVP, the chief marketing officer at McDonald’s UK. He tied the promotion in to the wider embrace of technology at McDonald’s locations.

“Since leading the charge with free Wifi in 2007, we’ve introduced a number of digital innovations to enhance our customers’ experience including the McDonald’s UK app, contactless payment as well as tablets and digital floor play in restaurants. Our free e-books are the latest way for us to deliver a fun, enriched experience for our customers at no extra cost to them.” McDonald’s gave away 9 million books last year; by the end of this year, the number is expected to rise to 15 million.

The promotion has no current plans to make its way to the U.S., but if it did, would free books be seen as a dangerous lure to fast food consumption the way the traditional Happy Meal toys were recently seen in San Francisco? If they were, it would mean the culture of reading in the U.S. has made a significant leap forward.

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[h/t] The Drum, Time,

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