On May 23rd, McDonalds shareholders gathered for their annual meeting, and McDonalds CEO Don Thompson answered any questions the shareholders had for him. Many shareholders, however, took this opportunity to scrutinize Thompson’s tactic of advertising to children and “undermining parents by marketing to children” (Richard Davies, ABC News). Aside from targeting children, shareholders who are also parents argued that McDonalds is trying to sell children junk food, thereby fattening the future of our world.
In all honesty, the whole argument is ludicrous. Did we not found this country on the principal that we have the freedom to do as we please? Does that not include the right to sell the products we create, so long as they are neither illegal nor harmful? While it is understandable that a parent might get upset that there are foods out there that are high in calories and taste but low in nutrition, these people are taking their anger out on an innocent company- at least, innocent in this respect. McDonalds has never force fed a Big Mac to anyone, and McDonalds has never required that you buy something off of their Dollar Menu; McDonalds simply exists as an enterprise, and all citizens in this world, as cogs in the machine, must accept that.
To me, the issue seems to be more with the fact that parents are refusing to take action against their children when they demand they want something than it is with McDonalds. Do parents truly believe that McDonalds is the only fast food restaurant out there and that, without it, children will begin to eat their greens peacefully? One of the lines in the recap of the conference by ABC News recalls that, “parents… criticized the company’s advertising for getting children to “keep bugging their parents” for the food”. How is this a problem that needs to be dealt with immediately by a multi-billion dollar company? As a parent, it is your responsibility to say no to your child. CEO Don Thompson is doing his job, and doing it well, by convincing your kids that McDonalds is delicious, but apparently you all aren’t doing your job right if you can’t tell your kids that they can’t get whatever they want.
On a personal level, I enjoy a McFlurry every once in a while, and I’m eighteen. Even though I’m supposedly in the age group targeted by McDonalds’ ads, I do not eat McDonalds every day, nor do I crave it. What America and these shareholders need to learn is something called moderation- the solution when something is a problem is not to exterminate it, but to learn how to manage it. This is the real world and everyone needs to learn how to deal with it.