McDonald’s rolled out several promotional programs in conjunction with the new movie The Smurfs, one of which will invite kids to eat healthy and help plant trees at the same time.
The new “Smurf the Earth” program in the U.S. will encourage kids to order Apple Dippers with their Happy Meal through the rest of the year. On the Apple Dippers package is a digital code that, when entered online at HappyMeal.com, will lead to a tree being planted in a U.S. national forest.
Robert Wallace is vice president of communications for Keep America Beautiful (KAB), the nonprofit organization McDonald’s has partnered with to plant the trees. He says the program is meant to engage a kid and his family, rather than simply try to educate them.
“[McDonald’s] could just as easily have said, ‘For every purchase, it’s automatic,’ but we wanted there to be that direct connection where kids are taking an action and knowing that they are being involved in this larger program,” Wallace says.
Still, education plays a big role in all of the Smurf-related promotional materials, which will play up healthy eating and taking care of the planet through McDonald’s packaging, signage, and interactive online materials.
Wallace says it’s important to teach kids at a young age the importance of being environmental stewards, because studies show that “pro-environmental behaviors begin before formal education.”
“We can provide them with those types of positive messages and positive opportunities to be involved, whether it’s through something like this or a small volunteerism program, or a community garden at their school or preschool,” he says.
“Those are all cumulative experiences in their lifetime that in our hopes … leads to a more engaged and environmentally conscious adult.”
Wallace says KAB will look into future partnerships with McDonald’s—the Golden Arches has had a representative on KAB’s board of directors for several years—and that the quick-serve industry plays a pivotal role in helping save the planet.
“Any corporation, fast food outlets being a subset of that, has a responsibility toward the society in which they operate,” he says. “Really, every individual business has its own issues … where it can play a role in social responsibility.”
By Sam Oches