McDonald’s is back in Disney’s good graces.
The burger chain and the entertainment company announced a multiyear, “non-exclusive” deal that will enable McDonald’s to cross-promote Disney movies on its Happy Meals.
The deal will start with the Pixar Animations Studios movie “Incredibles 2,” which debuts in theaters on June 15. That will be followed by the Disney movie “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2,” which debuts on Nov. 21.
The agreement represents a major win for McDonald’s, which has worked feverishly in recent years to improve the nutritional content and lower the calories in its Happy Meals. Those changes paved the way for the chain’s first marketing relationship in more than a decade.
“This relationship combines the ingenuity in food and entertainment to encourage more balanced meal selections in our Happy Meals and inspire families in fun and innovative ways,” McDonald’s U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Morgan Flatley said in a statement.
McDonald’s and Disney had co-promotional deals for years, with movies such as “The Little Mermaid” and “Finding Nemo” on the burger chain’s Happy Meals. But Disney ended the relationship in 2006 over nutrition concerns.
That year, Disney established stringent nutrition criteria that determined what brands it would associate its movies and characters with as part of an effort to push food companies toward more nutritious offerings.
Disney expanded that effort in 2012, introducing new standards for food advertising on programming targeted at kids and families. All food and beverage products advertised on Disney-owned television channels in which 25% of the audience is age 12 and younger must meet those guidelines.
Beginning in June, McDonald’s says that the Happy Meals offered on menu boards in the U.S. will be in line with Disney standards. The chain said it would stop advertising cheeseburgers with its Happy Meals and would no longer offer chocolate milk until it is reformulated to meet calorie standards.
“McDonald’s commitment to balanced Happy Meals allows our two companies to collaborate on new ways to bring the magic of Disney to McDonald’s consumers,” Tiffany Rende, senior vice president of corporate alliances for The Walt Disney Co., said in a statement.
McDonald’s has been working to improve the nutrition of many of its menu items. The chain removed artificial preservatives from its Chicken McNuggets and is serving chicken not treated with human antibiotics.