McDonald’s is all set to become UK’s largest children’s book distributor by launching a promotional campaign called Happy Readers for a two-year duration to giveaway books and encourage children to read as part of its Happy Meals marketing strategy. With the McDonald’s Happy Readers campaign, the fast-food chain aims to improve children’s literacy as well as bolster its brand reputation.
Starting today, the McDonald’s Happy Readers campaign is a a five-week promotion offering a series of non-fiction books from DK Books’s Amazing World series, including Stars and Planets, Big Cats and Oceans. By the end of 2014, the fast-food chain is expected to give out 15 million fiction and non-fiction books to Happy Meal eaters. The McDonald’s Happy Readers campaign offer also enables customers to redeem books at WH Smith, the high-street retailer.
The McDonald’s Happy Readers branding will appear on every Happy Meals box from this week alongside a voucher to buy another book for £1 at WH Smiths. McDonald’s said that it was running the campaign in the wake of alarming statistics revealed by National Literacy Trust (NLT), which conducted a survey on 21,000 young people in the UK. The results of the survey revealed that only 50% of children enjoy reading “very much” or “quite a lot”, and that one in three children don’t own a book.
Although, the restaurant chain intends to take up the initiative as a social responsibility, the McDonald’s Happy Readers campaign has attracted criticism from Children’s Food Campaign which called it an “inappropriate marketing strategy at a time when there is an epidemic of childhood obesity”.
The latest initiative by McDonald’s follows last year’s pilot where the fast-food chain gave away HarperCollins Mudpuddle Farm books as part of a Happy Meals promotion. McDonald’s conducted an internal research which found that nine in 10 parents wanted the chain to repeat the promotion.