American kids will get books instead of toys with McDonald’s Happy Meal packs in November

McDonald’s is going to treat U.S. kids with books along with its traditional food in Happy Meal packs from November 1-14. For the literacy-boosting promotion, the fast food giant has self-published four children books featuring cute brand’s characters—no Hamburglar or Ronald McDonald are included. The books will replace traditional toys that usually go together with the Happy Meal boxes.

The creative team of Leo Burnett, which is responsible for McDonald’s family and kids marketing promotions, developed the four characters—a goat, a dodo, a dinosaur, and an ant—and the storylines that emphasize the importance of healthy eating habits. For instance, the book titled “Deana’s Big Dreams” tells a story of the world’s smallest dinosaur named Deana who grew tall by eating well. View the books’ covers below.

The chain plans to distribute 20 million books in course of the promotion, which will be supported by TV spots and other advertising.

The initiative is launched within the company’s nutrition commitment made in 2011 when the company promised that all of its packaging, promotions and campaigns aimed at kids would feature a nutritional message. “We think that this is a fun and engaging way to give a nutritional message to kids. This is really the first step in a larger book strategy, and our intent is to continue over several years,” commented Ubong Ituen, VP-marketing for McDonald’s USA to Ad Age.

The four titles published as part of the effort won’t be available for sale separately. They will be distributed within the chain and additional 100,000 of the books will be handed out to kids in the U.S. through the company’s partnership with non-profit Reading is Fundamental. The company is to partner with publisher Dorling Kindersley to release a series of new e-books in early 2014. Both the chain’s original titles and the content from the publisher will be available for free, on the McPlay and McDonald’s Happy Meal apps, as well as and for the Spanish-speaking audience. The company is planning to release new content on a monthly basis.

McDonald’s launched a similar initiative in the U.K. earlier this year. For the ongoing promotion across Britain, the company partnered with publishers Dorling Kindersley and WH Smith to distribute educational books instead of toys in Happy Meals. It’s planned that by the end of 2014, the 1,200-restaurant chain will have distributed minimum 15 million fiction and non-fiction books across the U.K. venues. The difference between the efforts is that the books in the U.K. promotion are not originally written for McDonald’s.

Pic.: The four titles of books to be distributed with Happy Meal at McDonald’s USA (click to enlarge), courtesy of McDonald’s