The initiative was inspired by the example of a Brasília resident who denounced the chain’s abusive advertising directed at children by selling toys together with food items
After noticing the toys on display next to the service counter promoting the Happy Meal in a McDonald’s in Brasília, Wêsley Henrique de Assis reported the company’s strategy of aiming publicity at children to the Public Prosecutor’s office.
“As parents, we always want to see our children happy and these practices by McDonald’s affect us too. We see first hand how easily our children are manipulated by this malicious advertising that takes advantage of their naivety to turn them into consumers,” recounts the 46-year-old public servant.
Child and Consumerism was contacted by the Public Prosecutor’s office to contribute more information and, inspired by this action, decided to invite others to replicate the initiative.
As a result, the program launched on July 10th the social media campaign “Abusivo Tudo Isso” (All of this is abusive) – a play on words with the company’s advertising slogan, “Amo Tudo Isso” (I love all of this) – to gather signatures for a petition to the Justice Department’s National Consumer Office (Secretaria Nacional do Consumidor – Senacon), with a copy to McDonald’s customer service, demanding the end of this practice.
“We constantly receive messages on our website, social media and email from people appalled by the abusive advertising strategies being directed at children by this fast-food chain. We want to make people aware of their power to mobilize and denounce, and for the company to be aware of the outrage caused by their actions,” explains Ekaterine Karageorgiadis, coordinator of the Child and Consumerism program.
The campaign’s petition letter argues that there is no question that offering toys and other collectible items is meant to entice children’s desire to consume their products and that, in addition to having an impact on children’s eating habits at an early age, leads to other negative consequences like consumerism, environmental harm and family stress.
“Even though the company sells the toys separately from the food items, it is possible to identify practices equivalent to tie-in sales,” which is illegal, considering that “the price of the toy by itself is clearly abusive, since it represents more than 66% of the price of the combo’s individual items,” as stated in the letter.
Reiterating the illegal and abusive nature of the advertising strategy, which violates articles in the Constitution, the Children and Adolescent’s Statute and the Consumer Defense Code, as well the Early Childhood Legal Framework and the National Council for the Rights of Children and Adolescents (Conselho Nacional dos Direitos da Criança e do Adolescente – Conanda), the letter ends with a request for Senacon to take measures to end this practice and protect children’s rights in consumer relations.