- Unbeliebable: White House turns Bieber petition response into immigration screed
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador’s visa, but says law is ‘advisory’
- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
- Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
- Fla. man charged with killing 16-month-old son to play Xbox undisturbed
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- Michigan mayor slaps back atheists’ try to erect ‘reason station’ at city hall
- PHILLIPS: Where is the conservative establishment?
- 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes southern Mexico
Ronald McDonald’s midlife crisis
NEW YORK (AP) - Ronald McDonald is having a midlife crisis.
His floppy shoes, painted-on smile and flaming-red hair may be a harder sell to today’s kids who are trading in their dolls and trucks for manicures and mobile game apps at ever younger ages. He also seems out of step with McDonald's Corp.’s new efforts to appeal to adults. The 48-year-old spokesclown has fallen flat in new ads this year, according to Ace Metrix, a group that tracks TV advertising.
And the government is getting strict on marketing unhealthy food to children. That has both marginalized Ronald as more of a mascot than a product pitchman and landed him in the middle of the bigger debate about food makers’ responsibilities in stemming the rise in childhood obesity.
Critics say it’s time to hang up the yellow jumper.
A group called Corporate Accountability International plans to ask Ronald to retire at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday. They say Ronald encourages kids to eat junk food, contributing to a rise in childhood obesity and related diseases such as diabetes.
The group, which campaigned against the Joe Camel cigarette mascot in the ‘90s and complained about Ronald as a role model at McDonald's annual meeting last year, has stepped up its campaign. The group has taken out full-page ads Wednesday in the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Metro and four other papers to call for his head. The ads, signed by more than 550 health groups and professionals, carry the headline, “Doctors’ Orders: Stop Marketing Junk Food To Kids.”
What follows is an open letter to McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner, that says in part, “We ask that you heed our concern and retire your marketing promotions for food high in salt, fat, sugar, and calories to children, whatever form they take _ from Ronald McDonald to toy giveaways.”
Ronald, the world’s most famous clown, had humble beginnings with a paper-cup nose and scraggly blonde wig. First played by Willard Scott in 1963, he dispensed burgers and fries to delighted children and flew around on a magic hamburger. “Goofy and clumsy” is the way McDonald's describes the early incarnations.
A decade later McDonald's created standards on makeup and mannerisms for Ronald, so the actors who portrayed him could present a united front. Around that time, they also created McDonaldLand, home to Grimace, Mayor McCheese and an array of other characters.
Around 2004, McDonald's christened Ronald as a “balanced, active lifestyles ambassador,” and stuck him in commercials where he trained for the Olympics. He got workout clothes. He got a tuxedo. He moved from McDonaldLand into the real world. New commercials show him as an active, athletic clown who plays soccer, shoots hoops and encourages kids to visit McDonald's Happymeal.com website. There’s barely a mention of burgers and fries.
While other clowns have faded, Ronald has endured. He’s been immortalized as a Beanie Baby, a bobblehead and a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. Even now, Zagat says he’s the most popular fast-food mascot, beating out Jared the Subway Guy.
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- Nancy Pelosi washes immigrants' feet in humble Holy Week act then promotes on Twitter
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Russian fighter jet buzzes U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea
- EDITORIAL: Mark Warner running scared?
- Harry Reid blasts Bundy ranch supporters as 'domestic terrorists'
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.