Campaign SpotlightPress Release

McDonald’s UK, Ready10, and Leo Burnett remove Happy Meal smile to spark mental health conversations

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — McDonald’s UK and communications agency Ready10, together with creative agency Leo Burnett UK, have launched “The Meal,” a 360-degree, integrated campaign that removes the iconic smile from millions of Happy Meal boxes to help spark family conversations about emotions during Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from May 13 to 19.

The multi-channel campaign follows research commissioned by McDonald’s, which reveals that almost half (48%) of UK children feel like they must always be happy, even if they do not want to be.

McDonald’s has created and distributed 2.5 million limited-edition Happy Meal boxes to over 1,400 McDonald’s restaurants across the country. Selected locations will also receive stickers showcasing an array of emotions children experience, allowing kids to communicate how they are feeling by placing stickers directly onto the boxes.

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The campaign has been developed in partnership with BBC Children in Need, and a dedicated hub has been designed to provide families with access to a whole host of resources to encourage candid conversations on emotional well-being with children. The hub will be available to access via a QR code on the limited-edition Happy Meal boxes, as well as via the McDonald’s website and social media channels.

Launching the campaign is a short film directed by Jake Mavity through Rogue Films. The two-minute film showcases the importance of children openly expressing the range of emotions they feel. The film begins with a range of children reacting to being handed an expressionless Happy Meal box. The children choose from a range of expression stickers to place on their Happy Meal box, prompting each child to explore and discuss their own emotions.

The voiceover for the film was provided by football legend and broadcaster Rio Ferdinand, who was recruited by Ready10 to front the campaign as someone familiar with having to tackle conversations around emotions with children. Drawing on his own parenting experiences, Ferdinand participated in photography, media interviews, and social media amplification to support the campaign and provide the voiceover for the launch film.

A comprehensive media plan across OOH, social, and SFVOD will support the creative, with a variety of parenting influencers recruited to provide their own viewpoint on family conversations about conveying emotion.

Louise Page, Head of Consumer Comms and Partnerships at McDonald’s, said, “We know how important it is to help stimulate open conversations about mental health in families, and through this change to our Happy Meal box, we hope many more families are encouraged to kickstart positive conversations around children’s emotions and wellbeing.”

Kate Addy, Managing Partner at Ready10, said, “The Happy Meal smile is one of McDonald’s most iconic brand marks, and we knew suggesting it was removed from the boxes would be a big ask, but we were delighted when McDonald’s also saw the potential to positively impact millions of children with this important campaign. We know the insight at the heart of the idea is one that will resonate with families across the country, and it’s been a privilege to create something that will encourage children and parents to be more open about their emotions.”

Andrew Long and James Millers, Executive Creative Directors at Leo Burnett UK, added, “Happy Meal® is all about bringing families together, and to do that, it’s important we’re open with all our emotions. By using the country’s most famous children’s meal to deliver this message, we hope this populist campaign will reach and resonate with families across the nation and foster important conversations around children’s mental health.”

Fozia Irfan OBE, Director of Impact and Influence at BBC Children in Need, commented, “Mental Health Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to shine a light on the vital impact we can make on children and young people’s mental well-being and we are thrilled to be working with McDonald’s to provide the necessary support parents, and families may need to start the conversations with their children.”

Ready10 developed the idea, working with Leo Burnett to build the campaign. Ready10 was responsible for PR, talent, and influencer recruitment, and Leo Burnett developed the creative executions and website build. OMD UK handled all media planning and buying, using CRM by Armadillo.

Credits:

CAMPAIGN TITLE: The Meal
CLIENT: McDonald’s UK
HEAD OF CONSUMER COMMS AND PARTNERSHIPS: Louise Page
COMMUNITIES AND PARTNERSHIPS MANAGER: Melodie Richards
CONSUMER PR MANAGER: Charlie Madsen-Pilcher

COMMS AGENCY: READY10
MANAGING DIRECTOR: David Fraser
MANAGING PARTNER: Kate Addy
CAMPAIGN LEAD: Tom Stroud
DIRECTOR: Laura Coleman
SENIOR CREATIVE STRATEGIST: Dana Hanna
SOCIAL AND DIGITAL ACCOUNT DIRECTOR: Nader Ghahreman
ACCOUNT DIRECTOR: Francesca Martin
ACCOUNT MANAGER: Immy Omole
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Sophie Donne
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Chloe Phillips
DESIGNER: Aman Malhi

CREATIVE AGENCY: LEO BURNETT
CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER: Mark Elwood
EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Andrew Long & James Millers
SENIOR CREATIVE: Helen Rogerson
SENIOR CREATIVE: Owen Hunter Jenkins
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Hayley Power
CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF DESIGN: David Allen
DESIGNER: Danny Flint
DESIGNER: Charlie Crosthwaite
MOTION DESIGN DIRECTOR: Carmen Perez
MOTION DESIGNER: Milan Mezi
PROJECT DIRECTOR: Siobhan Mulcahy
AGENCY TV PRODUCER: Georgia Morris
DEPUTY CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER: Tom Sussman
PLANNER: Hamish Cameron
BUSINESS LEAD: Steph Bates
ACCOUNT DIRECTOR: Charlotte Crawley
SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER: Sian Davidson
ACCOUNT MANAGER: Brittony Kelly
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Rogue Films
PRODUCER: Fred Bonham-Carter
DIRECTOR: Jake Mavity
EDITOR: Flaura Atkinson
POST-PRODUCTION COMPANY: Stich Editing (Offline), Black Kite (Online + Animation)
AUDIO POST-PRODUCTION COMPANY: Sine Audio
CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST: DR MARYHAN

MEDIA AGENCY: OMD UK

CRM: ARMADILLO

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