Friday, December 17, 2010

Lawsuit targets toys in Happy Meals
If Monet Parham gets her way, McDonalds will be forced to remove the toys from its popular Happy Meals.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, filed a complaint in San Francisco
Wednesday accused the fast food giant of "deceptive marketing and business practices", according to an article at Business Week.

Parham, a California State employee, told Business Week, “I don’t think it’s right to entice children into wanting Happy Meals with the promise of a great toy.”

Apparently, Parham's 6 year old daughter, Maya, is a big fan of the toys included in the meals, especially those "based on Barbie, i-Carly, Shrek, or Strawberry Shortcake", according to the UK Daily Mail.  Parham said:
"What kids see as a fun toy, I now realise is a sophisticated, hi-tech marketing scheme that's designed to put McDonald's between me and my daughters.
"For the sake of other parents and their children, I want McDonald's to stop interfering with my family.
"This litany of requests [to eat at McDonald's] is draining and very frustrating for children. I would like this practice to stop."
In other words, Parham thinks that McDonalds is somehow preventing her from saying "no" to her daughter when she demands a Happy Meal.

But the New York Daily News reports that when Parham said "no", her children "pouted".  Somehow, this is all McDonald's fault, and rises to the level of a class action lawsuit.

The article also reports that Parham is not the average "mom" concerned about her children, but rather, a long-time advocate of "child nutrition issues" - read, nanny state food police:
Much of the interviewing press was happy to treat Monet Parham as a random (if oddly well-informed) California mom, but it didn’t take the blogosphere long to discover that she is apparently anything but random. Ira Stoll, who blogs at Future of Capitalism and used to put out the New York Times-tweaking, soon discovered (via a commenter) that she is in fact the same person as Monet Parham-Lee, who is a “regional program manager” on the state of California payroll for child nutrition matters.
Specifically, she works on a federally funded program that campaigns to exhort people to eat their vegetables and that sort of thing. The comment:
“Interestingly, her name has been scrubbed from the website of Champions for Change, the Network for a Healthy California. She has given numerous presentations and attended conferences on the importance of eating vegetables and whatnot.
“She presents herself as an ordinary mother. She is not. She is an advocate, and an employee of a California agency tasked with advocating the eating of vegetables. To the extent that Monet Parham-Lee has EVER taken her daughter to a McDonald's, she should have known better.”
The suit was filed by the advocacy group on behalf of all California children under 8 years of age who have seen any McDonalds advertising for the meals since December 2006.

The group does not seek money, but wants a judicial fiat preventing McDonalds from advertising the meals.
“The lawsuit is about the change, not the money,” Gardner said.

Business Week reports the center sent McDonalds a letter in June demanding it stop including the toys as premiums in meals.

“McDonald’s is engaged in a highly sophisticated scheme to use the bait of toys to exploit children’s developmental immaturity and subvert parental authority,” the organization alleged in its complaint.
Clearly, Parham is exploiting her child to push a political agenda.

If this case is successful, other companies that use any advertising aimed at children for anything will become targets for other liberal causes.

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