●       McDonald’s research reveals nearly half (48%) of UK children feel pressure to be happy all the time, even when they do not want to be

●       To help get families talking, millions of limited-edition boxes will be available in McDonald’s restaurants during Mental Health Awareness Week (May 13th to 19th) along with emotive stickers to help children illustrate their feelings

●       Football legend and father-of-five, Rio Ferdinand OBE, is supporting the campaign, alongside charity partner BBC Children in Need

London, 13th May 2024: For the first time ever, McDonald’s has removed the iconic smile from millions of its Happy Meal® boxes in restaurants across the country. The move aims to communicate to children it is okay not to be happy all the time, helping spark family conversations about emotions during Mental Health Awareness Week (May 13th to 19th).

This follows new research commissioned by McDonald’s which reveals that almost half (48%) of UK children feel like they must be happy all the time, even if they do not want to be. The limited-edition Happy Meal® boxes have been designed to encourage parents to talk to their children about how they are feeling.

Available alongside the limited-edition Happy Meal® boxes are sheets of stickers that showcase an array of emotions that children experience, enabling children to illustrate their feelings directly onto the boxes themselves. The boxes will be available nationwide in all McDonald’s restaurants, with the stickers available in select locations from Monday, May 13th until Sunday, May 19th.

McDonald’s is working with BBC Children in Need to provide families with access to a dedicated hub of resources designed to encourage candid conversations on emotional well-being with children, in collaboration with the charity’s Mental Health Awareness Week campaign shining a light on the emotional weight children and young people across the UK carry. The hub will be available to access via a QR code on the limited-edition Happy Meal® boxes, as well as via the McDonald’s website and social media channels.


Football legend and father-of-five, Rio Ferdinand, has teamed up with McDonald’s to support the campaign. He is drawing on his own personal parenting experiences to highlight to parents and families the reasons why it is so important to have conversations about emotional well-being with your children.


Rio Ferdinand says, “I’ve experienced first-hand with my own children how good communication and encouraging kids to embrace how they truly feel can build trust and help to manage emotions – no matter how big or small.


“It’s our job to empower our children to express themselves freely and support them every step of the way in understanding that it’s okay to not be happy all the time."


The research also shows the emphasis parents put on their kids to feel positive all the time, as 74% of parents claim that it is important to stop their children from feeling sad. As well as this, almost two-thirds (63%) of parents said they always encourage their children to be happy.


Louise Page, Head of Consumer Communications & Partnerships at McDonald’s, says, “We’ve been proudly supporting BBC Children in Need for four years now, and we know how important it is to help stimulate open conversations about mental health in families. Through this change to our iconic Happy Meal® box, we hope that many more families are encouraged to kickstart positive conversations around children’s emotions and wellbeing.”


Fozia Irfan OBE, Director of Impact and Influence at BBC Children in Need, says, “Ensuring children are happy is at the top of all parents’ priorities, but allowing children to express themselves and giving them the necessary space to articulate when they aren’t feeling at their best is of equal importance.


“Mental Health Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to shine a light on the vital impact we can make on children and young people’s mental wellbeing and we are thrilled to be working with McDonald’s to provide the necessary support parents and families may need to start the conversations with their children.”


Customers can donate the cash equivalent of their MyMcDonald’s Rewards points to BBC Children in Need through the McDonald’s App, to support the company’s commitment to helping children’s wellbeing.


For more information on the resources available, visit the McDonald’s Family Hub:


The campaign film is also available to watch here:

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For more information, contact the McDonald’s press office on 0203 897 0333 or at 




Notes to editors

The research was conducted through an online survey by kids and family insight agency Beano Brain between 5-9 April 2024. Sample size: 2,085 parents and their children aged 5-10.


The limited-edition Happy Meal® boxes are available whilst stocks last. The stickers will be available alongside the Happy Meal® boxes in certain restaurants.


About McDonald’s   

McDonald’s has run its business in the UK since 1974 and currently operates just over 1,300 restaurants across the UK and Ireland. McDonald’s is one of the UK’s largest private sector employers, employing over 130,000 people. It is estimated to provide over 85,000 jobs to young people aged 16-25, making it one of the largest employers of young people in the UK and Ireland.         


About BBC Children in Need

BBC Children in Need believe every child and young person deserves the opportunity to thrive and be the best they can be.


BBC Children in Need’s ambition is to create lasting, positive change across the UK for the children and young people who need it most. Together with the BBC and partners, BBC Children in Need aim to inspire the nation in support of their work.


BBC Children in Need’s 1,500 local charities and projects work tirelessly in every corner of the UK to help children & young people overcome the additional challenges they currently face, including supporting children and young people living in poverty, providing emergency support to families in crisis, providing comfort to children feeling sad, lost and alone, helping children overcome social injustice and supporting children to feel safe and secure again.


Further information on BBC Children in Need can be found at

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