How About a Prius with Your Happy Meal?

On Friday, McDonald's Vice President Bob Langert responded to the controversy surrounding the inclusion of toy Hummers in Happy Meals on the company's corporate responsibility blog. Langert's position on the promotion mirrored that of many commenters here at Treehugger: "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.

While many agree with Langert's claim, we have to wonder: why would Hummer pay to promote its vehicles in children's meals if there was no marketing or PR value? It turns out we're not the only ones asking these questions, and several other green bloggers have suggested an alternative that should make everyone happy: put toy Priuses, Smart cars and Tesla Roadsters in Happy Meals.Our own Nick Aster on his blog TriplePundit, Al Tepper at the UK's City Hippy, and Matthew from Enviroblog have joined forces to promote this idea. Each asks a simple question: if McDonald's want to be seen as a socially and environmentally responsible company, why not put toys in Happy Meals that reflect these values? There's no doubt that kids would get just as much fun out of these play vehicles, and any questions that remain about the values children may or may not pick up from these items would be settled.

It's hard to think of a downside to this solution. As Nick asks on his blog, "What would it take to make this happen?" ::Open for Discussion: The McDonald's Corporate Responsibility Blog