McDonald’s Revises Its ‘Happy Meal’ to Support Mental Health Awareness Week



Read Time

3 min


15 May, 2024

In light of Mental Health Awareness Week which runs from the 13th-19th May, McDonald’s have revised their usual ‘Happy Meal’ by removing the famous smiley face.

The idea being that there is a lot of pressure placed on children to feel consistently happy all of the time, which just isn’t possible.

In fact research carried out by McDonald’s found that parents like their children to feel positive all of the time, with 74% of parents claiming that it is important to stop their children from feeling sad. As well as this, almost two-thirds (63%) of parents said they always encourage their children to be happy.

The fast-food chain wants to emphasise that it’s okay for children to feel all sorts of different emotions, whether that’s sadness, confusion, or just generally not feeling themselves.

The temporary change of packaging aims to empower children to accept these emotions and also to encourage parents to have open and honest conversations with children about how they’re feeling.

McDonalds 'The Meal' box

In partnership with creative agency, Leo Burnett UK and Ready10, McDonald’s have called the campaign ‘The Meal’, purposely removing any mention of the word ‘happy’.

They’re also working with BBC Children in Need to remove the stigma associated with mental health and to motivate people, especially parents and children, to have critical conversations about mental health.

Alarmingly, the research commissioned by McDonald’s also revealed that almost half (48%) of UK children feel like they must be happy all the time, even if they do not want to be, which isn’t sustainable.

The campaign is supported by Footballer and father-of-five, Rio Ferdinand who references his own personal parenting experiences. He wants to highlight to parents and families the reasons why it is so important to have conversations about emotional well-being with your children. He says:

I’ve experienced first-hand with my own children how good communication and encouraging kids to embrace how they truly feel can build trust and help to manage emotions – no matter how big or small. It’s our job to empower our children to express themselves freely and support them every step of the way in understanding that it’s okay to not be happy all the time.

Inside of ‘The Meal’, McDonald’s have also included a series of printed cards, each displaying different emotions. By putting these cards in front of children whilst they’re sitting with friends or their parents enjoying their food, it’s kickstarting the conversation in a more relaxed way.

McDonalsd red the meal box and cards

In turn, this encourages children to express themselves or at the very least sparks a discussion about what the cards mean and why these emotions are important.

Everything else around the packaging remains the same, creating that same sense of familiarity children associate with McDonald’s, thereby making them feel more comfortable when talking about some of these topics.

A big well done to McDonald’s for promoting mental health awareness and for using their platform as an opportunity to get involved in the conversation.

Image credits:
UK Fundraising

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

Read here