Shrek extols virtues of being green

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If anybody's been fingered as a monster in the war on kids' obesity, it's Shrek. The green ogre has been publicly reviled by Sen. Tom Harkin as "manipulating vulnerable children to make unhealthy choices." But now, McDonald's is giving poor Shrek a chance to redeem himself.

With prescient timing, given the Institute of Medicine Report that urges food marketers to use licensed kids' characters only to promote healthy foods, McDonald's already had in the works plans to use Shrek to promote its "energy balance" initiatives. And while the fast-feeder isn't yet saying how it will tie in with the character for the launch of "Shrek 3" in 2007, a logical possibility would be for him to hype salads. "Shrek has said it is good to be green. There's probably a good fit there," said DreamWorks Animation SKG CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg in August, at the time the partnership ship was announced.

With the deal, Shrek gets massive exposure in the chain's 31,000 units and will help promote McDonald's "It's what I eat and what I do" energy-balance effort.

"We have been and are talking with our promotional partners about our priority of balanced and active lifestyles and how we can work together," said Bridget Coffing, McDonald's VP-corporate communications, emphasizing the effort is in early conceptual stages. "How it plays out remains to be seen. We're 18 months away from `Shrek."'

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