McDonald’s branding of NZ youth football

This promotional video advertises the involvement of McDonald’s in New Zealand Youth football. It must be difficult to manage a football club, and so any help would be appealing, but there are serious health and ethical issues with this commercial relationship. (I’ve discussed this before in the UK setting.)

Both the imagery and the “script” from the video convey a wonderful charitable act by McDonald’s. Some extracts from the video include …

McDonald’s spokesman: “Bibs and cones and a football is all you need and that’s really the resources the club wanted and so that’s where we put a lot of our effort.”

Football coach: “Without that support it would be a lot more difficult … trickier to coach the kids and help them develop.”

Young football player: “The gear that McDonald’s supplies is awesome because if you didn’t have it you couldn’t play so it’s great”

Young players (in unison): “It’s a beautiful game … I’m loving it!”

My questions which flow from this sponsorship deal …

Q. 1: Does this relationship conflict with the World Health Organisation’s recommendation (2016) to “Require settings such as schools, child-care settings, children’s sports facilities and events to create healthy food environments”? The World Health Organisation is very concerned about this:

“Nutrition and food literacy and knowledge will be undermined if there are conflicting messages in the settings where children gather. Schools, child-care and sports facilities should support efforts to improve children’s nutrition by making the healthy choice the easy choice and not providing or selling unhealthy foods and beverages” (WHO, 2016).

“Settings where children and adolescents gather (such as schools and sports facilities or events) and the screen-based offerings they watch or participate in, should be free of marketing of unhealthy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. The Commission notes with concern the failure of Member States to give significant attention to Resolution WHA 63.14 endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 20103 and requests that they address this issue. Parents and caregivers are increasingly the target of marketing for foods and beverages high in fats and sugar, aimed at their children …” (WHO, 2016).

Q. 2: Why was it necessary to brand the footballs and the sportswear?

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Q. 3: Both the coach and the player suggest it would be difficult or impossible without the help of McDonald’s. How accurate are these claims?

Joe Piggin

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