Do you want a Matilda or a BFG with your burger and fries? If you are a young New Zealander, your wish may come true soon. McDonald’s restaurants in New Zealand are moving away from the toys of Pokémon and Hello Kitty and filling the Happy Meals with books by Roald Dahl. This writer, born in South Wales in 1916, has captured the hearts of many people. Roald Dahl is well known among the older generation, an asset that McDonald’s wants to use to get the younger generation to read.
In total, McDonald’s has focused on the following six books:
- Wonderful Mr. Willy Wonka
- Fantabulous BFG
- Lucky Charlie Bucket
- Good Little Sophie
- Marvellous Miss Honey
The books do not contain the full versions of the stories. They are shortened versions of the different storylines. The books also contain stickers that they can stick on and assignments that the children can complete. In addition, the illustrations were specially designed for this occasion by Quentin Blake.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, McDonald’s wants to distribute 800,000 books in a period of 6 weeks. They have chosen to focus on one book per week that can be chosen by the children at the Happy Meal.
This program is specifically aimed at enthusing children to read books. They want to contribute to a positive development of children, which also boosts the positive image of the McDonald’s brand.
In addition, the nostalgia of the books is also very interesting for parents. Roald Dahl’s books will evoke beautiful memories for many elderly people. By combining young and old, McDonald’s tries to get both parents and children enthusiastic about reading books.
This is what Jo Mitchell, the marketing manager of McDonald’s in New Zealand, says about the issue. He wants the older generation to play a leading role in introducing Roald Dahl’s characters to the younger generation. The aim of this action is to help parents in getting children to read again.
However, this is not the first time that McDonald’s has set up such a programme. The so-called ‘The Happy Meal Readers’ program has been active since 2001. Since then, they have given away about 450 million books. In Sweden, this programme was introduced to the general public for the first time.
McDonald’s New Zealand has been participating in the program for about 10 years. In Malaysia, children who want a Happy Meal can choose from toys or a book by the English author Cressida Cowell. She is known from the book ‘How to Train Your Dragon’.
And that’s not all for McDonald’s, of course. They announced in 2019 that they want to expand the readers program to more than 100 different markets. In many cases, the children who order a Happy Meal still have the choice of a book or a single toy. This is what McDonald’s wants to roll out, where the choice can be made throughout the year.