Despite increasing pressure from health-care professionals, consumer groups, and some investors McDonald’s Corp. is not going to get rid of its mascot Ronald McDonald. Opponents of the red headed menace believe that the kid friendly marketing appeal of Ronald McDonald is contributing to skyrocketing obesity and disease levels among kids.
McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Jim Skinner staunchly defended the clown at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday, saying, “Ronald McDonald is going nowhere.” “Ronald McDonald is an ambassador for McDonald’s, and he is an ambassador for good,” Mr. Skinner said. “He does not advertise unhealthy food to
One high profile campaign was coordinated by Corporate Accountability International, a nonprofit that has targeted bottled-water makers and tobacco companies as well as fast-food outlets. Previously the group has called Ronald “a deep-fried Joe Camel for the 21st century.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health concluded that kids continue to exercise at rates similar to those of two decades ago. So what changed? Health experts say, what has changed is the food children eat and the amount of marketing they are bombarded with. Even when parents resist the “nag effect” cultivated by McDonald’s to access the $40 – 50 billion in annual purchases that children under 12 control, advertising creates brand loyalties that persist into adulthood.
Are we sure its the marketing and the advertising? In the case of Microsoft software and Jerry Bruckheimer films yes you can blame slick advertising for suckering people in to fork over cash for a consistently mediocre product. If the burgers and fries didn’t taste good, then people wouldn’t go.
I don’t hear much about how we’ve shifted our agricultural crops to an overproduction of corn. We don’t use sugar in soft drinks anymore the corn lobby has got Congress convinced that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is totally safe. In fact, look in your cupboard and try to find any processed food that still uses natural sugar– its all HFCS. And since people have stared to notice the corn lobby has tried to rebrand this crap as “corn sugar” which sounds more natural. If it were as health as they claim, why protest?
But that’s ok, we’re going to get the liberals in a lather, have them ignore the food supply, and keep cashing their corn lobby checks, we’ll blame the clown.
A clown that as the Wall Street Journal points out, really doesn’t matter like he used to:
“Ronald is recognized by more than 99% of U.S. consumers. Clearly, that’s his strength,” says Chris Anderson, communications director for The Marketing Arm. “Of course, just because consumers know someone doesn’t mean they like them or trust them.”
When it comes to likeability, Ronald McDonald ranks No. 2,109 out of more than 2,800 celebrities in the agency’s index, scoring in the same neighborhood as actor David Spade and NFL quarterback Vince Young, and behind Mickey Mouse, Shrek and Cap ‘n Crunch.
Mollie Kerr, an 11-year-old sixth grader from a suburb of New York City, has strong opinions on Ronald McDonald. For starters, she says, he lacks authenticity.
“It’s very fake, the whole, like, all his commercials, where he’s jumping up and down, where he’s always happy. You know that no one’s always happy. It’s silly,” she says. “We have, like problems, we have earthquakes and tornadoes, we have money problems and financial problems. But in Ronald McDonald World, we have no problems, it’s just happy all the time.”
She also finds fault with his lack of style. “His whole image is all 1970s and he’s all peppy and his clothes are all baggy,” she added. “We wear skinny jeans these days, even the boys.”
When the eleven year olds are wise to your act, I don’t think that the marketing of a clown is what makes them want to go to the Golden Arches. The people in the survey like Ronald as much as David Spade. I don’t like David Spade much and I clowns creep me out; but charities like the Ronald McDonald House have had a positive real world impact.
So to all the food busybodies who want to “save the children”, ignore the clown and head out into the heartland and start asking questions of agri-business and farmers collecting crazy subsidies.
Or check out what they’re serving in school cafeterias.