Marketing Fast Food: A Content Analysis of McDonald's Fast Food Commercials Targeted at Children

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The purpose of this thesis was to research how McDonald’s portrays its food in commercials by using particular marketing strategies to try and influence a child’s eating habit. A content analysis of 100 McDonald’s commercials, aired in the United States between January 2015 and April 2016, was conducted, in which the commercials were divided into three main categories and seven subcategories. Since there is a link between children who watch many hours of television and children who become obese, fast-food commercials can influence a child’s eating habit. Children have become an important market to focus on and therefore, many commercials are aimed at children. For children it is important that they enjoy the commercials and can recognize themselves and their family and/or friends in the commercial. The findings of the content analysis show that the following marketing strategies are most effective in McDonald´s commercials when trying to influence a child’s eating habit: (a) the emotional appeal to fun and the theme of uniqueness and novelty, (b) the presentation of the food, and (c) the environment in which the food is presented, so that children can identify with the people shown in the commercial. Keywords: Obesity, McDonald’s, advertising, marketing strategies, children, content analysis.
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