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12 Jan 2001 00:00
If you order a “Happy Meal” for your child at McDonalds, it comes with a free toy—this time a tiny Dalmatian, as a tie-up with the Disney family flick 102 Dalmatians.
But beware the large poster advertising the promotion: “Different DalmatiOns Every Week” it reads, and “Collect Your Disney DalmatiOn Toy in every McDonalds Happy Meal.”
Is the high-profile burger chain whose Ronald McDonald is so well known that when kids see a clown with red hair they instantly crave a burger and fries about to turn children into illiterates?
In fairness, “Dalmatian” is spelt correctly on the plastic bags containing the free toys and on the poster for the movie they’re promoting, so maybe the different spellings only confuse not actually misinform those hapless kids who actually notice the difference.
McDonalds marketing supervisor Natalie du Preez graciously accepts the blame, saying: “I signed the release for the campaign and accept full responsibility.
As for Leo Burnett, the advertising agency responsible for the campaign, no one is available to respond; and everyone I did speak to was “unaware of the problem”.
In a random survey of several of the Johannesburg McDonalds branches, only one manager out of 12 could spell “Dalmatian” correctly; alternatives included “Dilmation” and “Dalmaltion”.
Perhaps the greatest irony in the campaign is the puzzle in the Happy Meal box. It calls for a good speller. The child has to fill in some missing letters to find out what the cartoon character “Birdie” loves doing: “I love sp—(sport), d-nci-g (dancing), erc-se (exercise), f-y- ng (flying or is that frying?).
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