McDonald’s has decided to stop branding report card envelopes in a program that gave kids in Florida free food as a reward for good grades after a backlash from parents concerned about exploitive marketing. Teport cards came in an envelope (pictured, click to enlarge) telling kids to check their grades and redeem a free Happy Meal if they got all A’s and B’s or got good marks in “Citizenship” or attendance. The jacket also showed a smiling Ronald McDonald and mentioned McDonald’s several times.
Critics charged that McDonald’s was seeking a backdoor way to infiltrate kid’s minds after agreeing, amidst the obesity epidemic furor, to stop all advertising aimed at children under 12. Companies know that the earlier you can implant marketing messages and build brand affinity, the stronger bonds you forge. It looks like friendly educational outreach, but it’s really about training a future army of consumers. Why else would they need to showcase their branding so prominently all over the report card?