This McDonald's advert is of interest for three main reasons:
- Its target audience
- The values it claims to embody
- The lack of product.
Advertising a Happy Meal, it's obvious why McDonalds have chosen to include so many children within their advert. The 'Happy Box' seems to incarnate feelings of joy and curiosity amongst those in the commercial. There are many different versions of the box, all with the symbolic colours of red and yellow, all of which encourage the children to play and laugh with their parents as they enjoy the box, almost as if it's a game. This could be problematic because of the appeal created for children of a fun experience included with the meal as the food inside the box isn't a part of a healthy, nutritional lifestyle. Interestingly, it could be argued that this advert is aimed as much at the parents as it is their children.
The campaign is designed to re-ignite parents' latent love for McDonald's as a family destination, by reminding them of the joy and fun of the Happy Meal family experience.- Leo Burnett, McDonald's Happy Box.
Secondly, it's important to note the choice of music used within the advert. The use of the song "Glad All Over" makes the commercial upbeat and the repetitions of the lyrics "I'll make you happy" makes it easy to argue that the purpose of this advert is to suggest that Happy Meals create happiness. The joyous nature of the song, along with the images of several excited children, having a fun time with their families and friends, all connect to create an overall sense of fulfilment. This Happy Meal will not only fill their stomachs, but it will fill the void in family life which has come about due to modern living. Again, this raises issue of guilt for parents who feel they have failed their children, and puts blame on them for having unhappy family lives, suggesting that a Happy Meal could fix all of that.
Lastly, I find it interesting that there is never a single product shown in the advert, aside from the box. However, McDonald's isn't selling a red and yellow cardboard box, they are selling the food that comes inside it, and the experience achieved when consuming. As Julia Galeota mentions in her article, it is because of McDonald's iconic images that it is not necessary for them to include anything other than what they have; the audience knows what is being sold to them without needing to be told.
... the ubiquitous golden arches of McDonald's are now, according to Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, "more widely known that the Christian cross."
- Julia Galeota, 'Cultural Imperialism: An American Tradition', in The Humanist, (2004), p. 22
The word "McDonalds" never appears in the advert, instead it is represented by its logo. The fact that it can do that is enough to suggest that the company has established itself enough world wide (because the lack of any spoken language makes it an international advert) and can continue to claim values of happiness in its portrayals.