McDonald's Responds To McHummer in CRS Blog

BlogHer Original Post

McDonald's has a corporate social responsibility blog. Now that the McHummer Promotion has ended, the vice president of McDonald's, Bob Langert,is talking about the controversial promotion.The gist of the discussion is " It's just a toy."

"Our company, including my staff, is deeply committed to the whole scope of corporate responsibility issues, including environmental protection. So I polled my staff who have or had children. One of them said her children enjoy the little Hummer replicas as toys, just as many kids like toy trucks, regardless of make or model. She drives a MiniCooper, walks with her children to get groceries, bicycles with them on weekends, etc. Another said her grandchildren absolutely love the toy Hummers--that they're fun. Of course, there's nothing scientific about this poll, but I think it makes an important point. Looked at through children's eyes, the miniature Hummers are just toys, not vehicle recommendations or a source of consumer messages about natural resource conservation, greenhouse gas emissions, etc. Thanks for your comments. We welcome the dialogue."

Of course it's just a toy. So are these:

I loved candy cigarettes when I was a kid. They made me feel grown up and very cool. As it were, I did develop a nicotine habit for about eight years. Should I blame the candy? Of course not. But to say that the playing with candy cigarettes didn't influence my attitude about smoking is simply silly. It did.

Will having a Hummer promotion cause more people to go out and buy these gas guzzlers? Doubt it. And that's not the point either. The point is that 42 million kids will have a positive, wonderful experience with the McHummers. They are toys. And,I'm assuming providing endless hours of fun for boys and girls across the country.

Meanwhile, GM is building the brand equity of Hummer as a "fun vehicle" and helping to create a shield from the bad publicity they get for being gas guzzlers.

GM and Hummer weren't targeting the kids with this promotion, they were targeting the parents. The McHummer promotion is a great way to reduce the conversation around the fact that Hummers are gas guzzlers.

It's hard for parents to have an anti-Hummer conversation with a kid when their holding a McHummer in their hand.

Just a scenario. Mom and Rocco are in the car. Rocco sees a real Hummer and says, "Cool." Now, depending on the mom, they might have used the opportunity to talk about environmental issues and why they think hybrids are really the "cool"car. Or they might have simply said, "yeah, they're cool but they are gas guzzlers."

Now same scenario only this time little Rocco is playing with his McHummer.

Rocco loves his McHummer. Will parents still say negative things about the Hummer in that situation? Or will they think, why bother his fun?

I think the folks at GM are hoping the promotion stifles some of the negative conversation.

It's hard for a parent to talk about environmental responsibility about a car when Rocco is playing with one in the back seat.

On the one hand adults know Hummers are bad for the environment. Many may want to teach their kids that Hummers are not cool. Not so easy to do when 'my little Rocco carries them around everywhere he goes-- even sleeps with them.'

As to McDonald's assertion that it's just a toy. Well, my beloved candy cigarettes are just candy,too, but I doubt you'd arrange to have those included in a Happy Meal.

to Matthew at Enviroblog for alerting me to McDonald's CSR blog.

This post is cross-posted at FunnyBusiness where Elana blogs about business culture.

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