For Once, I Really am ‘Lovin’ It.’

Awesome job, McDonalds.

Three words I thought I’d never say. (Not without irony, anyway.)

My unexpected praise for the Golden Arches stems from McDonalds’ restaurants’ recent decision to give away children’s books in its most recent UK Happy Meal promotion. Instead of the usual plastic toys, Happy Meals in the UK will include one of several children’s books written by Michael Morpurgo (whose children’s novel WAR HORSE was the basis for the new Spielberg film of the same name).

Some consider the decision a blatant (and unapologetic) attempt to cash in on the  Spielberg film, particularly since the campaign appears to be running only in the UK, where Morpurgo’s books are published.

To which I say … I don’t care.

McDonalds’ Happy Meals have a long history of “cashing in” on recent film fads (as does everyone else with a dollar to make in the process). That’s capitalism, and I don’t consider it wrong. Where this campaign goes startlingly right, however, is McDonalds’ decision to use real books instead of cheap plastic toys based on characters from the film.

Many families don’t buy books for their children. Many kids don’t read for pleasure because they don’t get early childhood exposure to stories told through the written word. Many of those same families do frequent McDonalds, however, because – let’s face it – kids like Happy Meals. This campaign will put books in the hands of many British children – real books by a popular, talented author.

That sounds like a win-win to me.

In fact, I wish McDonalds would extend the campaign to the United States as well. I know a lot of kids who would have more books – and more books read to them – if their Happy Meal boxes had stories instead of toys. The toys break or find their way to the trash within a day or two. Even cheaply-made books would last much longer, both on their shelves and in their imaginations.

Congratulations, McDonalds, you got one right. And yes … I’ll admit I’m lovin’ it.

(Original story at The Guardian, and brought to my attention by the Shelf Awareness newsletter for industry professionals.)