McDonalds and literature
Another really good article on Publishing Perspectives here (we do love this site).
McDonalds, as you will read, are giving up at least temporarily their position of being the world’s biggest producer of toys and becoming the world’s most prolific children’s book publishers. In two weeks alone, they anticipate giving away some 20 million books to children. The books are being published exclusively for them and each carries a strong nutritional message. Sadly Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar don’t feature in any of them, presumably as a move away from their association with full fat food of, shall we say, arguable nutritional value.
‘We think that this is a fun and engaging way to give a nutritional message to kids,’ said Ubong Ituen, (what a fabulous name by the way), VP-marketing for McDonalds USA. ‘This is really the first step in a larger book strategy, and our intent is to continue over several years.’
So they’re in it for the long haul. One wonders whether they will ever return to the ubiquitous supply of plastic toys that used to make Happy Meals so appealing to youngsters.
I guess McDonalds should be applauded and if the books are actually of value and truly engage with their consumers then it is bearing out an argument that we’ve pursued over many years at Infinite Ideas – physical books are a great way for brands to connect to and remain connected with their customers. Books have a perceived value that goes way beyond other pieces of sales promotion. Papa Smurf (I’m probably showing my age there) or whatever other figurine they supplied in the past ends up at best in the toy box, un-played with after a week or so. But a book – a good, well written and produced book? Well, that could end up something that stays with the child for a long time, read and re-read over the years and that means that the McDonalds brand remains with the child and the parent for a long time.
James S Murphy of The Millions is a little less enthusiastic, harking back to the period in the 70s when McDonalds produced children’s classics such as Tom Sawyer, Robinson Crusoe et alia as a giveaway. And you can see his point from a cultural perspective. Many of these classics are ignored by the current generation, often cited as being ‘too difficult’ for modern kids to engage with (a glance at texts studied in this country at GCSE English over the past few years bears this out, too.) But after all, McDonalds are in the business of selling more fast food rather than educating the next generation in great literature. That’s a pity but you can understand their point.
So if one of the biggest brands in the world recognizes the power of the physical book we’re very pleased. Having worked with some pretty big brands over the years and produced some fabulous books with them to enhance their consumer engagement, it’s something that is close to the hearts of all at Infinite Ideas.