This week, McDonald's and Disney announced that the two companies had finally reached an agreement to include toys from the studio in Happy Meals for the first time since 2006.
The renewed partnership between the companies begins in June with the release of Pixar's Incredibles 2, and continues later in the year with Wreck-It Ralph 2. While those are the first two movies getting the Happy Meal treatment, the deal expands far beyond the animation department, and will include Disney's other properties like Star Wars and Marvel. Unfortunately for Marvel fans, the deal doesn't begin until after the release of Avengers: Infinity War.
Folks who grew up in the '90s will remember that Disney toys were a staple in Happy Meals. Every movie released by the studio, and many of its TV shows, were promoted through toys and ads at McDonald's. However, Disney introduces new health guidelines in 2006, and McDonald's products at the time weren't considered healthy enough for the company, causing them to pass on a new contract. The final set of Disney toys released by McDonald's were inspired by 1989's The Little Mermaid, in honor of the film's DVD release that year.
Now, 12 years later, McDonald's has improved the nutrition of Happy Meals, which allows it to meet Disney's requirements. The fast food chain recently made steps toward healthier Happy Meals when it announced that cheeseburgers and chocolate milk would be removed from the children's menu.
"The relationship today is probably very different from the relationship of the past," said McDonald's U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Morgan Flatley. "Both of our businesses and our brands are just in very different places today."
All of these decisions are part of an effort by McDonald's to appeal to families. Currently, families make up 25 percent of the restaurant's business, and the addition of Disney toys, paired with the idea of more nutritious food for children, should boost that demographic.1comments
"It is important for us to stay in front of consumers and keep them excited about the different properties that we're launching at any given time," said Tiffany Rende, senior VP of corporate alliances at The Walt Disney Co. "McDonald's has obviously huge scale [and] great reach for our audiences."
The first new Disney toys to be included in Happy Meals will be inspired by Incredibles 2, which is set to hit theaters on June 15.