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McDonald’s Puts Calorie Counts Out Front in New Campaign

Hot & Cool Food Trends

While some health organizations continue to criticize the hamburger chain’s overwhelming presence as a major sponsor of the London Olympic Games, McDonald's USA is this week introducing "Favorites Under 400 Calories" – a new menu platform featuring existing food and beverage choices at counters and drive-thrus nationwide.

In addition, McDonald’s is bringing back its popular "Win When USA Wins Gold" promotion to coincide with the 2012 summer games. Customers compete alongside the Team USA Olympians for a chance to win prizes whenever the USA wins a gold medal in a specified event. Prizes include $25,000 in gold, trips to London and HDTVs.

"Favorites Under 400 Calories is one more way we're making nutrition information accessible” said Neil Golden, Chief Marketing Officer, McDonald's USA. “Like our mobile app, this platform aims to empower our customers and employees to make choices that are right for their nutrition needs," Golden said. "We've found that customers are surprised to learn about the calorie content of some of their favorite menu options at McDonald's. In fact, customers may be surprised to know that about 80 percent of national menu choices are under 400 calories for the standard recipe."

Under the heading 400 calories or less, consumers will see such items as medium french fries, the Filet-O-Fish sandwich and an Oreo McFlurry. For 300 calories or less, consumers can order such items as a Southwest Salad or Strawberry Banana Real Fruit Smoothie.

McDonald’s has exclusive rights to sell branded food products inside the Olympics venue, and its two-story restaurant at the games will be the fast-food giant’s biggest and busiest in the world, seating 1,500 diners and serving up to 14,000 people a day.

Some critics have complained that having McDonald’s as one of the top sponsors of the games sends the wrong message at a time when the populations of the U.S. and Great Britain are waging battles against obesity.

McDonald’s has now countered that criticism with the Favorites Under 400 Calories campaign. "McDonald's is bringing greater awareness to calories starting with some of its customers' favorite menu items for under 400 calories," said Cindy Goody, PhD, MBA, RD, McDonald's USA senior director of nutrition. "With Favorites Under 400 Calories, we hope to help customers understand how their choices fit within their daily recommended calorie needs, particularly with portion sizing and eating in moderation."

The burger chain notes that customers can access McDonald's nutrition information for food and beverage choices on www.mcdonalds.com, McDonald's mobile app, in addition to its toll-free customer experience and insights line, in-restaurant brochures, on the reverse side of tray liners and in select menu packaging. They can also use the online tool My Meal Builder to mix and match food and beverage choices and view nutrition and ingredient information for customized menu choices.

If you’re planning to watch the Olympics, which begin with the opening ceremonies on July 27, you can expect to see plenty of McDonald’s TV commercials touting the “Favorites Under 400 Calories” and the game-piece promotion airing on the various viewing platforms of NBC.

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