April 30, 2014

McDonald’s UK announces digital partnership to offer free children’s e-book downloads

UK’s favourite family restaurant chain has partnered with Kobo to offer a free kids’ e-book download with every Happy Meal purchased

McDonald’s UK has teamed up with eReading provider Kobo to offer its Happy Meal customers access to free digital books.

Launched today (Wednesday 30th April) in conjunction with the new ‘Secret Seven’ Happy Meal book promotion, an e-book voucher will feature on every Happy Meal box enabling parents to download a free children’s e-book compatible with a wide range of electronic devices and operating systems.

Last year e-book purchases in the UK rose by 20%[1] and research by the National Literacy Trust highlights that while traditional book ownership has diminished in recent years amongst older children, ownership of and access to tablets and other digital devices has grown.[2]

Nine in ten children aged 5 to 15 now live in a household where they have access to the internet through a PC, laptop or netbook and in the last year, home use of tablet computers by children of the same age group has tripled.[3]

Alistair Macrow, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, McDonald’s UK said:
“Kids today have come to know and expect content in digital form and introducing free e-books to the Happy Meal is another way in which we’re creating choice and keeping in step with our customers. As a customer-led business, it’s essential that we’re always listening to what our customers want and providing them with experiences and added-value features that fit with their lifestyles.

“Since leading the charge with free wifi in 2007, we’ve introduced a number of digital innovations to enhance our customers’ experience including the McDonald’s UK app, contactless payment as well as tablets and digital floor play in restaurants. Our free e-books are the latest way for us to deliver a fun, enriched experience for our customers at no extra cost to them.”

Michael Tamblyn, President and Chief Content Officer, Kobo commented:
“We’re delighted to be partnering with McDonald’s in the UK to help expand its Happy Readers programme and offer books digitally for the first time. Since 2010 we’ve seen sales of Kobo e-books for kids grow ten-fold as more parents and children have come to appreciate the convenient and approachable nature of digital reading content. As passionate readers ourselves, we welcome the opportunity to help inspire children to fall in love with books. We hope the new option to enjoy digital versions of quality, children’s books through the Happy Meal will inspire more UK families to build their own personal libraries and read more together.”

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust added:
“Reading in all its forms is beneficial to children, whether that’s through traditional print books, e-books, other digital devices, comics, magazines or even menus and road signs when they’re out and about. In fact our research shows that three-quarters of parents and practitioners agree that it is important for children to learn to use technology from an early age to get on at school, so the ever-expanding world of e-books and digital content provides an exciting opportunity to get more kids interested and engaged in reading.”  

The new e-book voucher is the latest step in McDonald’s ‘Happy Readers’ campaign which has already seen two annual books promotions get millions of copies of popular children’s books into the hands of UK families and £1 book vouchers now feature prominently on the side of the Happy Meal box. The e-book voucher partnership with Kobo was negotiated by The Marketing Store as part of the evolution of Happy Readers. 

The tie-up with Enid Blyton’s ‘Secret Seven’, published by Hodder Children’s Books, will be running for five weeks in McDonald’s restaurants nationwide from Wednesday 30th April to Tuesday 3rd June.

Six short stories from the author’s timeless ‘Secret Seven’ collection, featuring exclusive colour illustrations by famed illustrator Tony Ross, will be available in-store as part of the Happy Meal. Two additional ‘Secret Seven’ and ‘Famous Five’ titles will also be available to parents and children through the £1 book voucher redeemable at WHSmith or Eason and the free Kobo eBook download available at www.kobobooks.com/uk/happyreaders until Tuesday 17th June.




  • The six ‘Secret Seven’ short stories being featured in the Happy Meal are:
  • The Secret of the Old Mill (available 30th April – 6th May and 21st May – 2nd June)
  • Hurry, Secret Seven, Hurry (available 30th April – 6th May and 21st May – 2nd June)
  • The Humbug Adventure (available 7th May – 13th May and 21st May – 2nd June)
  • An Afternoon with the Secret Seven (available 7th May – 13th May and 21st May – 2nd June)
  • Where are the Secret Seven (available 14th May – 2nd June)
  • Adventure on the Way Home (available 14th May – 2nd June)
  • The six short stories, published by Hodder Children’s Books, have never appeared in single book format before having previously appeared as part of a collection, and it is the first time these ‘Secret Seven’ stories have featured colour illustrations
  • The two Enid Blyton books available for £1 from WHSmith or Eason with the Happy Readers £1 book voucher are The Secret Seven which is the first book in the series, and Five and a Half-Term Adventure featuring the Famous Five
  • Five and a Half-Term Adventure will be the free title available in eBook format.

About Happy Readers

  • Launched in 2013, Happy Readers is a long-term campaign to put millions of popular books into the hands of families and help make reading fun
  • Happy Meal book promotions to date have featured stories from Michael Morpurgo’s ‘Mudpuddle Farm’ series and non-fiction ‘Amazing World’ books from publisher DK
  • Working in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, McDonald’s has pledged to hand out at least 15 million fiction and non-fiction books to families across the UK by the end of 2014.

About McDonald’s UK: www.mcdonalds.co.uk

  • Eight out of ten families visit McDonald’s in the UK and Happy Meals are a key part of the McDonald’s fun, family dining experience
  • McDonald’s has worked to reduce fat, salt and sugar and ¾ of Happy Meal combinations are now non-HFSS
  • Today, mums and dads can swap fries for Carrot Sticks or a Fruit Bag at no extra cost and can also choose from semi-skimmed organic milk, mineral water and Fruitizz which counts as one of your 5-a-day
  • On the first Friday of every month kids can enjoy a free fruit bag with their Happy Meal as part of Free Fruit Fridays.

About Kobo Inc.
Kobo Inc. is one of the world’s fastest-growing eReading services offering more than 4-million eBooks and magazines to millions of customers in 190 countries.  Believing that consumers should have the freedom to read any book on any device, Kobo provides consumers with a choice when reading. Kobo offers an eReader for everyone with a wide variety of E Ink eReaders and Google-Certified Android tablets to suit any Reader’s style including the award-winning Kobo Touch™, Kobo Mini, Kobo Glo, Kobo Aura, Kobo Aura HD, Kobo Arc, Kobo Arc 7, Kobo Arc 7HD, and Kobo Arc 10HD. Along with the company’s free top-ranking eReading apps for Apple®, BlackBerry®, Android®, and Windows®, Kobo ensures the next great read is just a page-turn away. Headquartered in Toronto and owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten, Kobo eReaders can be found in major retail chains around the world. For more information, visit www.kobo.com.

About Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton began her career as a school teacher before becoming a bestselling children's book author, writing over 600 books. In the UK she still sells more than one book every minute and many of her books have been adapted into films and TV series. As well as being regularly voted the UK’s best-loved author, Enid Blyton is the most translated children’s author in the world according to UNESCO, and has reached global sales of over 500 million books. Her most popular works include The Secret Seven, The Famous Five, The Faraway Tree, The Naughtiest Girl, The Adventure Series, Twins at St Clare’s and Malory Towers. There are 15 Secret Seven novels, which have been continuously in print since 1949. Hodder Children’s Books unveiled new editions in 2013 with full colour front covers and inside black and white illustrations by Tony Ross, famed for the Horrid Henry and David Walliams’ covers.

About the National Literacy Trust
We are a national charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK. Our research and analysis make us the leading authority on literacy. We run projects in the poorest communities, campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians and parents, and support schools. Visit www.literacytrust.org.uk to find out more, donate or sign up for a free email newsletter.

[1] Nielsen Book Services Ltd [trading as Nielsen UK Books & Consumers], 2014

[2] Children’s use of technology in the Early Years, National Literacy Trust, March 2014

[3] Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report, Ofcom, October 2013