Thursday, August 18, 2016
McDonald's pulling "Step It!" fitness trackers due to reports of skin irritations on kids
McDonald’s pulled "Step It!" fitness trackers from Happy Meals on Wednesday after reports that children experienced "skin irritations" from the toy's wristband, the company said in a statement.
The “Step It! Activity Band” came in six colors and strapped on like a watch. It was part of a promotional campaign to get kids moving again. The device counted steps and blinked according to how quickly or slowly the person wearing the device is moving.
The activity trackers, which were available in all U.S. and Canadian stores, will no longer be offered with happy meals, according to Terri Hickey, a spokeswoman for McDonald’s.
“We have taken this swift and voluntary step after receiving limited reports of potential skin irritations that may be associated with wearing the band,” Hickey said in a statement.
Hickey said the company is investigating the issue, and will be offering alternative Happy Meal toys.
And while some questioned what a fitness tracker and fast-food have in common, the band was in line with McDonald's move to push back at critics who say the business provides junk food to kids, according to Michelle Greenwald, Columbia Business School professor who is an expert in the food and beverage industry.
"In marketing today you need to surprise people and jar them in order to reframe their thinking," Greenwald said in a phone interview when the bands were still available.
In 2011, McDonald’s began offering the choice between fruit or Go-Gurt with Happy Meals after years of pressure from consumer groups and food activists to increase the availability of fruits and vegetable options on their menu.
At the same time, McDonald's cut the french fries portion size in their kids meal by more than half.
And while the activity tracker might have been a reminder to look twice at the Happy Meal options, it didn't last long.