Let’s be honest. Health food under the golden arches is about as practical as a confession booth at a brothel. But that’s exactly the case at McDonald’s, where salad, water, and exercise brochures have made the Value Menu. At least, that’s what you’ll find in the new “Adult Happy Meal” from the “Go Active!” initiative at the world’s largest fast food vendor. Like other major chains, McDonald’s is currently being pressed to the grill by a trident of class-action lawsuits, scathing media, and an obesity crisis that – according to the CDC – is racking up $93 billion a year in healthcare costs.
Give the people what (they think) they want: Leaflets and leafy vegetables. In reality, there’s little chance anybody in the McDonald’s corporate suite thinks this stuff will sell. It’s an exercise in corporate spin, concocted to appease a growing public furor. After all, fast food vendors have spent more than 50 Darwinian years in the lab, racing each other to crack the chemical codes that compose the “meat product,” “mouthfeel,” and “soft serve” America loves. The nation’s not going to give up its fried favorites for some roughage and Evian. Paul Newman be damned!
The truth is, like Kenny G and the tobacco industry, McDonald’s sells products that are bad for people. And, having tarred-and-feathered the cigarette companies into submission, the hungry masses need a new public enemy #1. So it is that fries and burgers have supplanted the nicotine and second-hand smoke of yore. But McDonald’s knows what it’s doing. Just as the mob has begun dusting off its torches and pitchforks, the company hung up a new sign out front of the old bordello. “You see,” they grin, “it’s a spa!”
(Fast Company saw McDonald’s coming a mile away. Click here to see the other companies we think will be kneeling before the public in the near future…)