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MENDOZA IN THE NEWS

The Boston Globe Column: Happy Meals and Old Spice Guy

by Joanna Weiss

July 25, 2010


The following excerpt from The Boston Globe column quotes Carol Phillips, adjunct professor of marketing at the Mendoza College of Business. To read the entire column, visit: "Happy Meals and the Old Spice Guy."

In the laudable quest to fight childhood obesity, it’s hard to get kids to exercise, control their portions, and hold the salt. It’s easy to blame the Happy Meal toy. This spring, officials in Santa Clara, California banned toy giveaways with kids’ fast food meals. Last month, the Center for Science in the Public Interest threatened to sue McDonald’s, saying the toys are a deceptive marketing practice.

Of course, there has been backlash, and not just from kids who fear they might miss out on “Last Airbender’’ figurines. A group of competing Save-The-Happy-Meal-Toys Facebook pages has sprung up, each with a fan base of nostalgic hipsters. The Happy Meal, it turns out, isn’t just a bundle of adorably-packaged calories. It’s a bundle of adorably-packaged calories that represents childhood.

There’s something to be said for the power of marketing, the ways it can influence us even when we think we’re too smart and too cool. Notre Dame University marketing professor Carol Phillips says that when her students brag that they aren’t susceptible to advertising, she points to their shoes, their hats, and their computers.