McDonald’s Happy Studio app breaks advertising rules


Fast food giant McDonald’s has come under the watchdog of advertising its Happy Studio gaming app.

The complaints said the app, which targets children and promotes the brand’s Happy Meals, encourages kids to buy “or harass their parents to buy” Happy Meals so they can unlock additional content on the app.

The main character of Happy Studio is a Happy Meal box

Even though McDonald’s acknowledges that the app advertises by saying “hey kids, this is advertising”, the complaint states that the app uses a “child orientation” and does not promote eating habits. healthy.

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Ad Standards agreed that the Happy Studio app is “clearly marked with McDonald’s material” and is “considered marketing communication for McDonald’s”.

In response, McDonald’s said the app only promotes healthier Happy Meal options, and kids don’t need to buy Happy Meals to play.

However, according to Ad Standards, the app, which primarily promotes fast food giants Happy Meals, doesn’t offer alternative healthy options alongside images of a Happy Meal box.

“The committee considered that the advertised product did not meet the requirements of the QSR initiative by only advertising products that meet the nutritional criteria, as the advertisement is an advertisement for all Happy Meals, some of which do not. do not meet nutritional criteria. “

The Happy Studio app was found to encourage kids to buy Happy Meals because it asks players to “scan your toy,” toys that can only be found and obtained by purchasing Happy Meals.

“The committee considered that the advertised product did not meet the requirements of the QSR initiative by only advertising products that meet the nutritional criteria, as the advertisement is an advertisement for all Happy Meals, some of which do not. do not meet nutritional criteria. “

Ad Standards confirmed the complaints and found that the app violated the QSR (The Quick Service Industry Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children) initiative.

McDonald’s has since removed the app from the App Store and Google Play.

“We were disappointed with the outcome of the complaint, however, we will abide by Ad Standards’ final decision. McDonald’s remains committed to ensuring QSRI compliance and has therefore removed the Happy Studio app from Google Play / App Store, ”McDonald’s said in a statement.


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