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March 23, 2001

By Kate MacArthur

McDonald's Corp. is trying to add muscle to its childrens' meals as the older kid market heats up for fast-feeders.

To keep up with the growing

appetites of kids ages 8 to 10, McDonald's on March 30 will roll out its Mighty Kids Meal, a super-sized version of its Happy Meals.

It's the newest addition to the permanent menu following the fast-feeders' move to add variety to its food selections. While the french fries, soft drink and toy will be the same as in the original meals, the entree in the Mighty Kids version is bigger -- a double hamburger, double cheeseburger and a 6-piece Chicken McNugget vs. the single-patty burgers and 4 pieces of chicken.

Packaging will reflect an older image as well. Rather than the brightly colored food boxes and bags that change with each promotion, the new meals come in a brown paper bag more akin to the adult meal bags.

Burger King's Big Kids
While the Golden Arches clearly leads the fast-food category in kid appeal, it was burned by Burger King Corp. in the older-kid market when that chain in 1998 introduced its Big Kids Meal, prompting a suit by Mickey D's. While McDonald's claimed it was the first to use the moniker for a Detroit market test, Burger King beat its rival to the trademark. Burger King also uses a bigger entree offering along with a toy to appeal with older kids. The chain is expected in April to launch its first branding effort for its larger combo.

Since losing the yearlong court battle with Burger King in June 2000 over the "Big Kids Meal" brand, McDonald's has cooked up a slew of new names for its version.

Miramax tie-in
The new "mccombo" will be launched during McDonald's tie-in with the Miramax film Spy Kids, which runs through April 18.

Like Burger King, McDonald's uses humor, and attempts to reinforce the concept of empowerment and maturity in a pair of new TV spots from Leo Burnett USA. The first spot, called "Lullaby," opens with a couple obviously singing a bedtime song to their "baby," only to show an annoyed older boy who dryly says, "Guys ... you're scaring me." In the second effort, two mothers at McDonald's are talking about how their kids just started picking up toys the way older kids do. When the camera pans back it reveals that the moms are carrying their older girls on their backs.

"We wanted to take what is often an awkward time of life for these kids and put the humor spin on it," said R.J. Milano, senior vice president-marketing for McDonald's.

The spots will run for most of the year on kids programming that skews slightly older.

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