McDonald’s has been heavily criticized for not only it’s unhealthy food choices, but also it’s questionable marketing tactics. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re at it again with a nationwide event called McTeacher’s Night.
What is a McTeacher Night?
On McTeacher’s Nights, McDonald’s brings the schools into their restaurants for a change. Teachers are invited to serve McDonald’s food, behind the counter at actual McDonald’s fast food locations, to both students and other patrons eating at the restaurant. McDonald’s, in return, donates a small percentage of the night’s proceeds to the school. Meanwhile, the burger giant gets a night of free labor and brand marketing disguised as charity. McDonald’s depends on teachers and schools to recruit students and their families to attend a McTeacher Night. While McDonald’s enjoys free labor and the kind of marketing money can’t buy, schools are left with negligible proceeds and students who have been taught that their teachers endorse McDonald’s junk food.
Why is a McTeacher Night a Bad Idea?
It may seem like a fun way to raise funds for local schools, but at what cost? In this case, the damage of a McTeacher Night outweighs the benefit.
It Promotes Unhealthy Food
By encouraging children and students to attend McTeacher’s night, it’s encouraging the consumption of McDonald’s food. Research shows a direct correlation between fast food habits and and weight gain. Studies also suggest fast food diets can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. McDonald’s isn’t just unhealthy due to the high levels of sodium and fat. It’s also made from GMO ingredients which are likely to contain pesticide residue from glyphosate, which is a probable carcinogen.
It’s Merely McDonald’s Marketing
McDonald’s already markets to children more than any other fast food brand, and McTeacher’s Night is just another marketing opportunity. Teachers, students, parents, and staff are all encouraged to attend the event in support of their local school. McDonald’s markets in schools in a variety of ways, including sending Ronald into schools and serving branded food in school cafeterias. The most egregious of its school-oriented marketing tactics is McTeacher’s Nights. McDonald’s exploits cash-strapped schools to enlist teachers as brand ambassadors and salespeople for its junk food brand, with devastating consequences for kids’ health.
It Undermines Parents and Schools
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of this event is how it undermines the schools and parents who have worked to put forth a message of healthy food choices. Even if a child has parents who are strongly against fast food and junk food, corporations have learned how to get parents to cave in. They’ve done the research to learn exactly how children think and what type of marketing is most effective. It takes an average of 9 nags from a child before a parent gives in.
McDonald’s is visible in nearly every aspect of a child’s life – on television, in movies, the internet, and more. They’re constantly sending out positive messages about their brand, which challenges the message of their own parents. Seeing a trusted teacher promote McDonald’s sends the message to the child that they should trust McDonald’s, a corporation that profits off cheap food and marketing to children. Children look up to these authority figures and they trust what they are told. McTeacher’s night furthers McDonald’s message and contradicts the opposing message of parents and schools fighting to promote healthy food.
It’s Poor Fundraising
While McDonald’s uses the respect students and parents have for teachers to create brand loyalty, it pays only a negligible portion of McTeacher’s Night proceeds to participating schools. Schools typically receive only 15-20% of the proceeds, often only $1-2 per student. According to research by the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood that sampled 25 schools, McTeacher’s Nights made an average of $817 per school, with only 5 schools raising more than $1,000.
McDonald’s Gains the Profits
With only a portion of the proceeds going to schools, McDonald’s stands to gain the rest of the profits. In addition, McDonald’s is getting free labor from the teachers who are volunteering for McTeacher’s night. It’s just another money maker, both in sales, new customers, and marketing.
Millions are Against it
This week, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and more than 50 state and local teachers unions in more than 20 states are calling on McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook to end McTeacher’s Nights. Together, these unions represent more than 3 million teachers, principals, school nurses and education policy experts nationwide. McTeacher’s Night isn’t supporting schools, it’s doing the opposite. It’s going against them and it’s threatening our children’s health. See what teacher’s think about McTeacher’s Night below and make sure your voice is heard.
You, too, can tell McDonald’s to leave our schools alone and put an end to McTeacher’s Night by signing a letter to the McDonald’s CEO.