20th Century Fox has inked a massive promotional deal with McDonald’s, in which the fast food giant will promote many of the studio’s upcoming family-friendly titles such as Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
For those movies, McDonald’s will offer themed Happy Meals with custom toys and create original TV ads for Fox’s movies. Disney had a similar, exclusive, 10-year deal with the Golden Arches that it ended in 2006, at least in part, because the Mouse House wanted to distance itself from fatty foods and the growing childhood obesity epidemic. Now Disney’s using healthier foods like fruit, vegetables and dairy products to promote its brands.
So why didn’t concerns about childhood obesity keep Fox from inking this deal with McDonald’s? Well, a source close to the situation points out that McDonald’s menu has changed since Disney ended its deal with the fast-food giant. That’s true—sort of. McDonald’s now offers the option of getting milk or juice instead of soda and apple slices instead of french fries with Happy Meals. But, the original high-calorie, high-fat Happy Meals remain. As far as we know, Fox didn’t specify that their toys only be offered with the healthier Happy Meals.
Burger King has a multi-movie deal with Paramount, but it’s mostly to promote PG-13 action movies like Star Trek and Transformers and seems aimed at teenagers and adults who should have developed their own healthy eating habits and know what they’re getting into when they buy a Whopper. (Fox has also done fast-food deals to promote teen-targeted titles like The Simpsons Movie and Fantastic Four.)
This deal gives Fox a huge marketing partner for its family tentpoles. We’ve said repeatedly the studio really needs a successful summer (and it’s off to a good start with Wolverine), but was a deal with McDonald’s really necessary to get there? There are plenty of less-controversial marketing partners with which Fox could have aligned itself.
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