McDonald's ads sliced thin

March 11, 2008 at 2:42 PM

OAK BROOK, Ill., March 11 (UPI) -- McDonald's Corp. is walking "a very fine line," between product promotion and squaring its image with parents, Crain's Chicago Business reported Tuesday.

"We have sold millions of jugs of low-fat milk and millions of fruit packs," McDonald's Chief Marketing Officer Mary Dillon said.

But, parents groups aren't necessarily buying the image of a meal at McDonald's as healthy. Even ads featuring mascot Ronald McDonald exercising -- with no food in sight -- have been yanked after protests.

Parent groups said they thought the ads were an indirect enticement directed at children.

"McDonald's is in a tough position and must walk a very fine line," Larry Miller of RBC Capital Markets said to Crain's.

McDonald's has signed an agreement with the Better Business Bureau's Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative to focus ads on healthier choices.

But the company is in an uphill struggle. Twenty percent of its $7.9 billion in U.S. sales last year came from Happy Meals.

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