More about McDonalds, The Bee Movie, and Conservation International

Earlier this week I was ranting about being contacted by a non-profit nature organization (CI) to plug the mal-nutritious “happy meal” associated with the Bee Movie. I found the happy meal suspect, the movie missing some key messages, and the entire campaign just a bunch of greenwashing.

This is advertisingAs a follow-up, I did finally manage to get happymeal.com to work. And it was dang freaky. It also had the extremely amusing, and tiny little notice in the upper corner that you see here. I’m sure it’s highly effective at informing kids this is a commercial site.

In order to finally access the site, I had to turn off my popup blocker, allow a bunch of cookies from a domain I had previously blocked, and also download an additional flash plugin to finally get it to load. Even then it was a bit slow on a T1 connection.

And lo, there *was* finally some conservation info! Eventually. And about 4 screens in, and after I had declined twice to give my personal info. I took a couple of screen shots–here is the main page.

Fair enough, if you make it to the site, there is a thing to click on for the pledge. (Of course, there are also games, movies, and a bunch of animated things you’re more likely to click on. )

You can choose to make several different pledges within the context of a “game” (conserving water, playing outside, etc.), each of which asks for your personal information, and will let you download a personalized PDF of the pledge. Note that there IS a logo for Conservation International on this page.

The pledge “game” was pretty lame–very text heavy. You collect points by making pledges, but I doubt many people will persist to the end. Being an extremely suspicious person, and paranoid about disabling about half of my security to get the dang site to run, I didn’t explore downloading info further.

Conclusions: the site is much more about the Bee Movie and the McD brand, than any conservation info. Given the poor state of American computing security in general, it is likely that kids might be allowed to visit this site, and may also be able to download all sorts of things.

Frankly, I am doubtful that any of these children will be motivated to spend time outdoors appreciating nature by a commercial website featuring bees in sweaters and tennis shoes selling chicken “nuggets.”

I want to like Conservation International; Jared Diamond is on their board, and they are trying to conserve some biodiversity hot spots. But they also aren’t really picky about who else they make friends with.

I don’t have that much of a problem with their taking money from Walmart and Starbucks (Look on their Board of Directors); sometimes compromises have to be made. I do have a problem with promoting unhealthy food to children, and saying because they throw in a bit of conservation education (that only a small proportion of kids can actually access) that it’s ok.

Greenwash.

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