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December 5, 2011

Photo by jemufo. Some rights reserved.

On December 1st, a new San Francisco city law took effect which prohibits restaurants from giving away toys with meals that fail to meet certain nutritional guidelines. The law is obviously aimed at fast food giants such as McDonalds and Burger King.

How did the giants respond? They started charging $0.10 for the toys. And McDonalds took it one step further. They announced they would donate all proceeds towards the building of a new Ronald McDonald House. American Public Media’s Marketplace called the response McSmarter.

But it’s really McBrilliant. Just think of what the McDonalds cashier can say not only to parents and kids, but to all customers: “Would you like to add a toy for $0.10? All proceeds go to build a new Ronald McDonald House. You know, the place where we house and feed families with seriously ill children for free.”

Not just great PR, but a tax deduction, too.

And a lesson on unintended consequences. Marketplace noted that San Francisco didn’t do a cost-benefit analysis of the law. While such an analysis might have cost tens-of-thousands of dollars, something which no cash-strapped city can afford, it’s a reminder to all regulators to think outside the box.

Or as Taco Bell might say, outside the bun.

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