1) Changes to the website and app, including registration
How is the Happy Studio website and app changing with this update?
The aim of these updates is to provide parents with even more inspiring, creative games and resources to help develop their children’s skills whilst they play. The new games have been designed with guidance from education experts to enable children to develop through play, and to help them succeed in a connected world.
Registering for the app used to be a lengthy and complicated process; has this changed with these developments?
We’ve cut out the registration process, with Happy Studio now available through one simple download from the App Store or Google Play Store.
If I’m already registered with the app, will I need to re-register?
Existing users of Happy Studio will receive an email asking them to download the new app, and will receive a series of push notifications about the changes. Desktop users will be automatically redirected to the updated site when the changes have been made to their local market version.
Will all the existing data about my child’s play on the app be lost with these updates?
Data on previous play will be securely deleted.
2) Why do you have Happy Studio and what makes it unique
Why do you have Happy Studio?
Happy Studio further demonstrates McDonald’s dedication to families, building on promotions such as Happy Readers which provides families across the world with hard copy books and e-books to encourage reading together.
How does Happy Studio and its new games differ from other websites for children?
Uniquely, Happy Studio features a broad range of children’s favourite licensed characters in one place.
Have you consulted experts while developing the site?
The three new games have been designed with child development and play experts to create an exciting environment for children to enjoy “purposeful play”. The games include an inventor game to help develop creative and logic skills; an artist game to encourage creativity, memory, attention and physical activity; and a musical game in which children can improve creativity, memory and physical skills.
3) Questions on the games specifically
What are the new games that have been added with these updates?
The additional games will feature a series of the world’s best loved children’s characters, beginning with Peanuts characters Snoopy, Charlie Brown and Schroeder. Later in the year, featured characters will include My Little Pony, Transformers, Hello Kitty, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and others (dates tbc).
Are all the planned new games being released at once?
The first set of new games are:
- Be an artist: children can improve their physical and creative skills, as well as their memory and attention, by learning to draw characters such as Snoopy, and by creating scenes with glitter and stickers
- Be an inventor: in this game, children can build planes or sledges with characters such as Snoopy and Charlie, learning creative and logic skills as they go
- Be a musician: this game gets children up and about, through activities such as playing Schroeder’s piano and shaking maracas, all whilst improving their memory, physical and creative skills
4) European launch details
When will the new app and website be available here?
It will be launched here in Malta on the 19th December.
Will Happy Studio be translated and available for all markets?
The updates to Happy Studio will be rolled out across 42 countries in Europe, and translated into 38 European languages.
5) Spending time online/discouraging physical activity
Doesn’t Happy Studio encourage children to spend more time online disconnected from their parents?
Both the online site and the mobile app provide parents and children with activities and games they can play together both online and offline, such as making a guitar from household items or creating some “crazy science gloop”.
Isn’t Happy Studio encouraging children to be less physically active by spending more time online?
The new “Be a musician game” gets children up and about, through activities such as playing Schroeder’s piano and shaking maracas, all whilst improving their memory, physical and creative skills.
6) Online safety
Is Happy Studio safe for children?
Happy Studio is a closed site/app and we have made every effort to ensure that it is safe for children, including working with the global Data Privacy Management company TRUSTe to ensure compliance. We don’t collect any personal information from children.
Do children need to get a parent or guardian’s permission to use this website?
Children need their parent or guardian’s permission in order to use the Happy Studio website or app. When visiting the website, a simple maths calculation must be completed to help ensure parental or guardian consent. The app download requires a credit card be attached to the relevant account (although it won’t be charged).
How can parents monitor what their child is doing online?
We have a Grown-Ups’ Section for parents to understand what the site is all about and what their children can play and learn online.
What information do you collect on the site?
We do not collect any personal information from children on the Happy Studio app and website. We only collect personal information from parents or guardians (first name and email address) if they choose to sign up to our newsletters or join our Parents Panel.
Can you share content from the web site with anyone else?
Content from Happy Studio cannot be shared with anyone else unless permission is given for the Happy Studio app to access a phone’s camera, in order for parents to store photos of their child’s creations on their devices. If that’s the case, parents could choose to share those photos with others, in the same way people can send a photo on their device usually – this function is separate from and outside of the functions of the Happy Studio app.
How does McDonald’s ensure customers’ personal information is kept safe and secure?
Happy Studio was designed using various technical methods to ensure personal information is safe and secure, and is certified by global Data Privacy Management company TRUSTe to ensure compliance. For example, all personal information is held on computer servers which are not directly accessible to the outside world. It also uses sophisticated technologies to prevent any outsider accessing the machines which host Happy Studio. McDonald’s will never sell a customer’s personal information.
7) Marketing to Children
Isn’t this just another way to market unhealthy food to very young children?
Happy Studio does not carry any food advertising, including branded McDonald’s menu items. We take the well-being of our customers, especially children, very seriously and we aim to offer great tasting food that can form part of a balanced diet.
Isn’t this just a means of marketing to children in a way that is free of regulation?
We believe that interactive, digital experiences like Happy Studio can help provide a fun experience and be a positive opportunity to promote healthy, active lifestyles. The new Happy Studio games help children to develop through “purposeful play”, enabling them to succeed in a connected world.
Isn’t Happy Studio and its educational elements just a front so that children can encourage parents to take them to McDonald’s?
In all of our activities we act in accordance with our Marketing to Children Principles, a set of self-regulatory measures which are mandatory for all of McDonald’s European markets and apply to both online and offline activity. Since November 2011, we have supplemented these Principles to meet the standards set by a voluntary industry initiative: “the EU Pledge”, which limits the types of food and beverages that can be featured in advertising directed to children under 12. Becoming a signatory of the EU Pledge is a public sign of our transparent and demonstrable commitment to responsible advertising to children. We updated and enhanced our commitments in November 2012, which were fully implemented in January 2015. As well as this, in September 2013 McDonald’s announced a global commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, pledging to increase customers’ access to fruit and vegetables and a wider choice of drinks, to increase awareness of the availability of these menu items and to help families and children to make informed choices in keeping with balanced lifestyles.
How does your marketing actually promote healthy eating messages to children?
Our menu and the way we do business have evolved significantly over the years. We have significantly expanded our menu range, and our Happy Meal menus include fruit or vegetables, as well as drinks containing only naturally occurring or no sugar (water, milk, and fruit juice).
Isn’t advertising to 6-year olds still very young? How can you justify advertising to under-12s?
We are committed to ensuring that our marketing is always responsible as well as fun and engaging. All of our Happy Meal advertising that features food will include fruit or vegetables and drinks with only naturally occurring or no sugar e.g. pure fruit juices or bottled water. We will also only use our brand characters, such as Ronald McDonald and Happy, to promote well-being, educational or fun but responsible messages.
Do you have plans to engage children online to promote nutritional awareness?
We are continuously looking at fun and meaningful ways of engaging with our customers including families and children on nutrition and physical exercise. In September 2013, McDonald’s announced a global commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, pledging to increase customers’ access to fruit and vegetables and a wider choice of drinks, to increase awareness of the availability of these menu items and to help families and children to make informed choices in keeping with balanced lifestyles.