The days of parents pulling through fast food joints without guilt may be over. A generation ago, parents saw nothing wrong with grabbing a bag full of nuggets and fries for the kids on the way from soccer to gymnastics. But since “pink slime” and “Supersize Me,” parents across the nation turn into the arches with at least a little bit of guilt. CEO of 5WPR Ronn Torossian believes this reality is at least partially behind the industry-wide effort to offer “healthy” options on fast food menus.
McDonalds has been offering apples with their Happy Meals for a while now, but they recently added kid friendly yogurt as another “healthier” option. Subway began selling veggie-centered kids meals years ago.
It hasn’t worked. Even though millions still stop at fast food restaurants every day, parents still don’t see these trips as exactly chock full of healthy options. But they still go in droves. And that leads to the great dichotomy of quick and easy kids meals. Parents perceive the more inexpensive meals as unhealthy and of less quality than pricier “healthier” fare.
Moms, in particular, don’t like taking their kids to places where there aren’t healthier options on the menu. Not that they are apt to buy them. It’s the great irony of this industry. People go where they CAN get healthier items. But they really don’t buy them. Brands that offer more variety get more business, but people still buy the less healthy selections – and by a wide margin.
So, how can you operate in a world that is confusing, and successfully manage your public relations? Well, you craft different messages for different people. There’s no doubt that most McDonalds ads, for example, are going to extol the joys of their comfort food, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see at least one person in that ad with a salad. It’s a quick and important tip of the hat that says: “Yep, we can take care of you, too!”
Bottom line? The core marketing and PR efforts still focus on the largest market, but successful brands have learned not to ignore the people who want better quality through targeted food pr … and really mean it.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.