Now, don’t get us wrong: We’re enormous fans of Rachel Abramowitz at the L.A. Times.
But today’s Happy Meal story in the Times really is a choking hazard. That is, we almost throttled oursevles doing second shot of DayQuil when we read its thesis: That Disney is ending its marketing partnership with McDonald’s over concern for the health America’s children.
Ha! (Choke, choke.)
“For 10 years, Walt Disney Co. and McDonald’s appeared to have the perfect marriage. Happy Meals bore little figurines of Nemo, Mr. Incredible and 101 Dalmatians. But no more. This is one relationship that’s ending in part because of the children…One reason, say multiple high-ranking sources within Disney, is that the company – which prides itself on being family friendly – wants to distance itself from fast food and its links to the epidemic of childhood obesity.”
The chutzpah of such unnamed Disney “executives” is almost too much.
For one thing, the marriage might have been happy when Disney was releasing animated hits like “The Lion King” and “Aladdin.” But litany of flops including “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” and “Treasure Planet” have been blamed for declining Happy Meal sales. McDonald’s was glad to be rid of this exclusive deal and be free to deal with other studios, like Fox’s BlueSky and Sony’s Imageworks, to name just a few.
For another, at the Mouse House, the decade-long deal has limited Disney’s ability to pick release dates for films in an already Super-sized release schedule. Some have even reported that the deal forced Disney’s TV networks to sell advertising time to McDonald’s at below-market rates.
Indeed, while Disney might be glad to be rid of McDonald’s and vice-versa, we think the rationale supplied anonymously by Disney’s top execs seems utterly specious. If Disney is so eager to be rid of trans fat’s influence on young hearts, why isn’t it closing all the McDonald’s restaurants within its theme parks?
No, the deal is toast because neither party was getting the green out of it. Does anyone really think that Bob Iger wouldn’t gleefully force-feed each and every American child a 20 piece McNuggets with a toilet plunger if it would goose Disney’s share price?