Blog: Leonie BarrieSuper-sized clothing opportunities?

Leonie Barrie | 13 January 2006

McDonald’s drive to capture the hearts, appetites and wardrobes of its youngest customers has taken another step forward with its decision to launch the McKids apparel line across Asia. Working with brand manager DIC Entertainment, which it signed up to take responsibility for the range in June 2005, the fast-food giant says it anticipates “strong interest in the new McKids line.”

The move is part of the company’s plan to establish itself as a ‘lifestyle’ brand. And if successful, this pilot roll-out could lead to the McKids brand stepping out of McDonald’s restaurants and onto the streets in a big way, since the line-up will also include active play toys. I’ve never seen the fast-food chain as an ambassador for a healthy lifestyle, but if it really is sincere in its intentions to fitten-up (rather than fatten up) its youngest customers then its actions should be commended.

Unfortunately, though, the lifestyle McDonald’s has in mind is obviously not shared by those super-sizing themselves on burgers and fries. Recent moves to introduce more nourishing foods in its restaurants, including fruit and salads, were probably nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to the health crusaders and an attempt to stay ahead of any legislation that might follow government warnings on childhood obesity. Likewise, sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics is a savvy promotional ploy that will ensure its brand is seen by billions worldwide.

And it is in this vein that I struggle to see anything other than the negative connotations of children running round in McKids branded clothes. The launch of these garments would provide the company with a convenient and lucrative alternative to advertising its fat and calorie laden foods to a susceptible and naïve audience. That it’s targeting the under-10 set is devious too, since that’s the cutoff when children start getting worldly enough to understand they’re being targeted.

Whether there’s actually any demand for the range, though, is a different matter altogether. McDonald’s has been down the McKids road twice before, but each time the range was shelved due to poor sales. So maybe kids are, in fact, less gullible than we think.

US: McDonald's signs Asian license for McKids apparel


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