27 September 2010
Professor Robin Coble Ivy Tech
Professor Robin Coble
English 112; Exposition and Persuasion
September 15, 2010
Analysis of a Fast Food Restaurant Advertisement: “Happiness in a Box” I have chosen an advertisement from McDonald’s featuring two smiling children on a colorful Happy Meal box with the inscription, “Happiness in a Box.” I chose this ad because it’s a first-rate example of why the United States has become the most obese nation on earth. According to the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than 64 percent of US adults are either overweight or obese. 59 million American adults are, in a word, fat (Obesity Statistics, 2010). This is an important statistic when dealing with such advertisements, because fast food in America has become not only traditional, but more affordable than buying meals and making them at home. More than 50,000,000 people in the United States depend on fast food when feeding their families (My Fit of California, 2010). One of the ways McDonald’s appeals to children is through the use of color. The colors on the box, primarily red and yellow, are the easiest for human eyes to see (Barringer, 2006). Besides being appealing to children, and increasing appetite, they are also the colors used to get our attention via road signs, traffic lights, and airport landing strips. The science behind these two colors is fascinating. Red has the longest wavelength of all the colors, and therefore, weakens the least when traveling through the air. As we age, red and yellow continue to be the easiest to see (Khounsary, 2009). Studies reveal that fast-food branding actually makes food taste better to children. In a study directed by Dina Borzekowski at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health in Baltimore, Maryland, researchers asked 63 preschoolers, ages three to five, to taste identical McDonald’s food in McDonald’s packaging and plain wrappers. In most cases the children said the food in the packaging without the McDonald’s logo didn’t taste as good as the McDonald’s branded food. 76 percent of the kids liked the fries in the branded package better than the unbranded ones, and 60 percent preferred the branded chicken nuggets (Borzekowski, 2007). In this same study, they discovered that children in homes with more televisions were more likely to prefer the branded food. This suggests that television ads strongly influence the appetites of young children. It is estimated that the food and beverage industries spend over $10 billion a year marketing to children in the United States. Besides Television, parents now have to contend with junk-food ads on cell phones and the Internet (Purdue Extension, 2010). Another thing to be addressed about this ad is its promise to find “happiness in a box.” While it can be argued that most adults know that happiness can’t be found so easily, children are another matter entirely. Clearly, this ad is aimed toward children because Happy Meals are traditionally purchased for children. According to the American Psychological Association, children are exposed to more than 100 advertisements a day, or 40,000 a year (American Psychological Association, 2007). The term “Happy Meal” itself is appealing because of its ability to tap into a parent’s emotions. Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, all want their children to be happy. As Americans, happiness is considered a right rather than a privilege. We are all entitled, according to the Declaration of Independence, to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” If happiness is as easy to buy as a Happy Meal—who wouldn’t want one? According to the Pew Research Center (Pew Research Center, 2006), 49% of those with incomes over $100,000 say they are “very happy.” Only 24% of those with an income of less than $30,000 say they’re “very happy.” Therefore, it’s little surprise that parents who can’t afford to buy healthy groceries,...