March 30th, 2010
11:31 AM ET
Group tells Ronald McDonald to take a hike
By Madison Park
A corporate watchdog group that got rid of Joe Camel is after another icon - this time, its target is tall, red and happy.
Corporate Accountability International plans to host a retirement party for Ronald McDonald as it releases a report Wednesday that basically says, "We’re not loving it. " The report calls for McDonald’s to stop using the iconic clown.
“For nearly 50 years, Ronald McDonald has hooked kids on unhealthy foods spurring a deadly epidemic of diet-related diseases,” said Deborah Lapidus, the senior organizer at Corporate Accountability International. “Ultimately the report makes the case that it’s time that McDonald’s stop directing fast food to kids. Really, Ronald deserves a break and so do we.”
The group plans to hold events outside of McDonald's throughout the country and wants the fast food chain to stop using its corporate mascot. The mascot makes children “vulnerable to manipulations to marketing” and turns them on to junk food at an age when childhood obesity rates have soared, Lapidus said.
The group is employing the same strategy as it did to target the cigarette mascot in its “Send Joe Camel packing” campaign in the 1990s.
“A lot of our thinking is modeled on that campaign and success,” Lapidus said. “We think of Ronald McDonald as a deep-fried Joe Camel for 21st century.”
McDonald’s does not appear to have plans to ditch the clown. The company released a statement to CNN.com calling Ronald McDonald “a beloved brand ambassador for McDonald's” and described him as crucial to its charity efforts to help families of hospitalized children.
“Ronald also helps deliver messages to families on many important subjects such as safety, literacy, and the importance of physical activity and making balanced food choices. That's what Ronald McDonald is all about, which our customers know and appreciate,” according to the statement.
Lapidus said the fast food giant's message has some “fundamental ironies.”
“McDonald’s charity does a lot of good and they do work to be commended,” she said. “But there are serious question about the face of the charity that’s about kids getting better that also promotes unhealthy food to kids. Could it not serve the same children without the cross promotion of burgers and fries which are affecting kids' health?”
Other McDonald’s characters, such as Hamburglar or Grimace (the purple triangular fellow) can rest easy. Health advocates are not targeting them.
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Red China? Really? How old are you that you still call it Red China? Do you also call Mexico, Old Mexico?
Agreed the parents should take charge, unfortunately given the many overweight children AND parents in this country that doesn't seem to be working.
What ever happened to parenting? How about telling your kid "no" instead of blaming his unhealthy eating habits on a clown that has been used to create a friendly company appearance since our parents were young adults. If they are really so concerned about childhood obesity here is what they need to do. Start advertising to mothers and fathers how important it is to cook their children healthy food rather than eating fast food four times a week. Start advertising that children should gather with their friends and play football or basketball outdoors rather than virtually on their Xbox's. Stop blaming the worlds problems on corporations that have a good marketing strategy and take control of your own family's life.
Now that science has fully documented the addictive qualities of fatty foods we can consider The McDonald's Corporation as nothing but another drug cartel. Ronald is their Pablo Escobar.
Where are the parents?! The people lobbying for this change look overweight! What are they eating? I grew up with McDonalds, and I don't struggle with hypertension, hyperlipidemia, or diabetes because I use moderation as a guide. My parents gave me the right tools and taught me how to think. Ronald Donald is not the problem, but the "Bozos" who are attacking him are. Don't take away my options. I am a health nut and I can't believe I am going to say this but, bad food has a place in society. Education is key. Get off your ass and exercise.
of course they are targeting children... why else would they be advertising with cartoon like characters... of course kids want to eat their and play with toys in "happy meals" ... is it any wonder kids are getting fatter and McDonalds is getting richer? we need more consumer watch groups like this!
My son has been to McDonalds numerous times. He has no idea who Ronald is. Doesn't recognize him. In fact he calls it Old McDonalds.
And you know what? I am the one who made the decision. I drove him there. I ordered and I paid. I continue to control the situation and I choose to take him once every so many weeks.
Parents need to be responsible for their children. These groups need to stop thinking they have to protect us from ourselves. The government is doing enough of that for everyone.
Bring back Grimace!!
these people are fools. the charities have nothing to do with the mcdonalds food. my daughter was born 3months premature and i required the house facilities and am grateful they were there. i even took a picture of me by the ronald figure sitting outside and i will cherish it forever. the staff was a blessing to me and my husband when we truly needed them and anyone who wants to destroy ronald is crazy. ronald mcdonald is a character that needs to stay associated with the restuarant.
It isn't Ronald that makes the children eat burgers, it's the parents. Honestly, Ronald McDonald isn't telling children to run away from home to go into a McDonalds and eat 30 burgers, it's the parents that drive them there, the parents that generally order, and the parents who finally decides what goes into a childs mouth.
Oh yeah, blame the clown for making little Johnny fat. Are you kidding me? How about personal responsibility. Where were Johnny's parents when he was hoarking down the Happy Meals? I've never seen the people at McDonald's force feeding anyone, have you?
McDonald's is an honest American icon that puts out good, consistent food products that are affordable. Their products are the same whether you purchase them in Portland, OR or Rome, Italy which I did. A Big Mac in front of the Pantheon in Rome is the same and just as good as it is down the street from my house.
McDonald's has made a great effort to offer more nutritious options for those customer's who desire it. You're not supposed to eat fast food more than once or twice a week anyway.
The only clowns that need to go are the ones who are trying to get rid of Ronald McDonald!
Okay, THIS is one of the craziest things I have ever HEARD of! Most kids don't even LIKE clowns. I seriously doubt Ronald has influenced many kids to eat McDonalds. He's a logo. And that logo has done a LOT of good for sick children. If people don't want their kids to eat McDonalds, then don't take them! These people need to get new hobbies
Let me get this straight... get rid of the clown because HE has made children fat... One question... When will they target the PARENTS who BOUGHT the food in the first place?
I started smoking Salem cigarettes because the box was green and it was the most appealing.
Either we should ban the color green, or I was a stupid teenager.
We can't ban stupid, but I'm sure we can work out a plan for those sadistic colors of ours.
Ironically this group also wants to show support for the green movement by carpooling to the picket lines. I was outside of a McDonalds this afternoon and sure enough they showed up and 50 of them got out of a VW Bug.
I know a number of people who were afraid of clowns as kids – Ronald scared away as many as he attracted. Now that would be a study – are people who had coulrophobia (clown-a-phobia) healthier than those who did not ?
Ok seriously though – here bought a hamburger just because the liked Ronald.
The Burger King King better watch out – he's next !
Besides, it's not looks that scare the kids off – take a look at McDonalds, half the patrons are pretty gross looking, and that should be enough to scare anyone away
Not this stupid fast food crap again. People are going to eat whatever they want and parents will always feed their kids the same crap. it's impossible to regulate, and is it really anyone's business but the person stuffing their face? Health campaigns, bring 'em on. Healthier meals at schools, absolutely. Less parents letting their kids stuff their faces, great. But one less clown will not change a thing.
I'm all about being healthier, and making better food choices, especially with kids, but I hate moronic gestures like this.
They really mean and do nothing. Just a lot of bluster. They need a REAL job.
I love McDonald's. I weigh 130 lbs. The problem is not the company. The problem is that parents have no control over their kids. They need to clamp down on what they feed their kids, not what the company serves.
Oh, I see it. Don't you? More oppression of my red-headed brothers going on in this world! Unite and save Ronald!
I love how angry everyone is. When we've hit a nerve in society the next thing is social change. In 30 years everyone will say "I can't believe how corporations controlled US citizens and how many citizens fell for corporate family values."
You are the people who used to believe that smoking was fine as well. Now you can't wait to get smoking out of public places.
It's so sad to see you all behind the curve, again. What's it like to be so afraid of change and have such a narrow vision of the world?
Those who really care about children- like this group- will win in the end. We always do. Then you'll all be apologizing that you didn't get it earlier. You felt this way about the environmental movement as well. You used to mock those folks as tree huggers. Now corporations are obsessed with changing the environment.
So, in short, you're welcome for having vision. Hope you can catch up the rest of us.
Yeah, McDonalds is the bad guy. Not the 400 pound lard buckets shoveling food into their mouths.
Yes and i'm sure teenagers stopped smoking because Joe Camel was retired. Are people really this stupid? A clown makes you eat bad? McDonalds actually offers plenty of healthy options (salads, water, apple slices, grilled chicken sandwiches) but it's up to the parent to make their kids choose those options. Clown or no clown, my kids still want McDonalds and it's my job to tell them no.
Better watch out Easter Bunny, all those sugar filled and high-cholesterol egg baskets are probably going to be targeted next!
How about we ban all "activists"?
Time for a few people to visit a Ronald McDonald House. Within those walls, Ronald is a symbol of hope. BTW, my kids love McDonald's salads.
These activists and others like them all have the same agenda and it isn't just about fast food. Is McDonald's fattening? Yes. But remember that in 1910, the average life expectancy in the US was 47. In 2010, its about 80. So what's the bad news. These are the same goofballs who think that global warming is a tragedy. Is global warming real? Probably. But is global warming not desirable? I mean, if the temperature goes up 3 degrees, is this a bad thing? Would you rather have global cooling? Perhaps I can help these activists. Does homosexual relations spread disease? Yes. Is homosexuality a bad thing? Well, perhaps they can investigate IKEA for that one.
Some people have to much free time on their hands. I understand the need to eat a more healthy diet and I can understand trying to move McDonalds and other fast food restaurants to serve a more healthy diet. A move to get rid of Ronald McDonald is taking it a bit far. Your group is making the claim that he is to much influence on children. Well the amount of influence is up to the parents that take their kids to fast food restaurants. Your organization should look also at the good Ronald the Clown and McDonalds Restaurants do with charities and the Ronald McDonald House.
Maybe your group might consider backing off of Ronald. My GODFATHER thinks you should give it serious consideration. I listen to my GODFATHER. Maybe you should too.
Growing up our parents took us to McDonalds once a week on Fridays for a treat. McDonalds, or any other fast food was not a main source of our meals. Too many parents today use the excuse that they don't have enough time to cook for their kids. I think that is a copout. These are your children people, from what I hear from parents they would do anything for their children, so why not make them a healthy meal?! Stop putting the blame elsewhere and take responsibility.
Amen. When are parents going to begin taking responsibility for what their children are eating. Shift the blame to everyone else.
Some people have way to much free time. After this it will be removing Chucky Cheese and why not go after the King from Burger King. Ronald is an icon for McDonalds and should remain. If anything they should try to get him into a health kick and teaching children about the healthy options at McDonalds, which may not be many but there are some. Plus once the calories of menu items have to be posted on the menu we will probably see some health changes with major chains. I love how we can blame lack of responsibility on icons and characters. Even Joe Camel was a stupid target. I liked him. Also many people remember the Marlboro man, did he promote kids to smoke. These people are just really uneducated and have way to much free time. Problem is they think they are helping mankind. All that wasted energy could be put to a real cause like helping sickness/disease.
GET A CLUE PEOPLE! It's NOT McDonald's or Burger King's menus that are the problem! It's all the ridiculous video games these kids play these days. They sit at home and play these worthless, out of touch with reality games for hours on end, then text their buddies non-stop when not doing that. The problem is instead of meeting friends outside after doing homework, for an afternoon-early evening of good exercise and riding bikes and building tree-houses, etc...is replaced with all the other b.s. that is making all our kids so FAT. I've raised three kids and the last one went to college last year. Not ONE of them is FAT. And the video games were a REWARD ONLY after all their homework was done, (they had 'snack-time' during homework) and then they had to go outside and play until supper was ready. We live on a cul-de-sac and we had all the parents in on this. Our little dead end street always had our kids and their kids out playing soccer or basketball or you name it! Video games were limited to less than a couple hours per week. Now my growing kids have excellent eating habits and activity habits. And their kids will too....and yes...we DID occasionally go to Mikkie DeeZ for some burgers and a shake!!! I still do every once in a blue moon. It's more for nostalgia to me now...but dam...that's some good eats! LOL (and my health is all "in the green" with great cholesterol and blood pressure and I'm 50)
These dam video games are also another cause for the lack of empathy our kids feel for others. That "pop-a-cap" mentality from a video game crosses into real-life and when a fist fight and a black eye after school were a lot of times expected...Next day, the kids shook hands (or not) and differences got worked out healthily. Now...forget that. It's all violent. It's not just about a punch in the nose and making the other kid say "uncle" or "I give!" It's about kicking his skull, kicking as hard as they can–STOMPING.
Leave Ronald alone and let's get to the real root of this whole problem. It isn't just fat, it's the moral decline of our youth and this is directly brought on by the onslaught of immoral video games and of course the media and the non-stop barrage of commercials. I can't stand watching tv anymore, and haven't since 2003.
If Corporate Accountability Int'l. really thinks that McDonald's marketing and Ronald McDonald manipulate children, why doesn't it suggest that Ronald McDonald start promoting healthier fast food items instead of suggesting that McDonald's completely stop directing fast food to kids? If Ronald McDonald really has that much influence over children, then he could promote a healthier menu and it would be win-win-win - for McDonald's, for Corporate Accountability Int'l., and most important, for our children.
If any mascot needs to go, it's that creepy king from BK.
Typical 21st century society: blame someone else for your problems instead of taking personal responsibility. Maybe if parents did a better job of being parents, then their kids wouldn't be so fat, clown or no clown.
Mommy's and Daddy's have to take there kids to buy McD's. If you don't want them to eat it then don't pay for it. I take my kids maybe once a month. I take them to play and to get happy meals when they have been good. If the parents who have such a problem with it regulate what and when your kids eat then your kids wouldn't be fat. Quit putting the blame on everyone else but your selves.
The reasons kids have an epidemic of eating related illnesses like obesity and diabetes is because their mothers refuse to cook, don't know how to cook and never spend one minute thinking about proper food in the home. My kids loved the All American kid meal at McDonalds on occassion and that was a great relief from the many hours planning meals, learning how to cook and shopping for groceries. Women are desparately needed to feed and care for their children. Work is great but money does not feed the kid, cooking in the home does. So far the men have not exactly filled in. Women need a serious wakeup call if they want to have children. Like the man says when a person imagines a nice warm caring feeding mother do they visualize a man or a woman. (Most children say woman) We are women and we should be proud to be women.
Joe Camel represented a product that has been proven to cause harm to certain individuals.
He doesn't represent that product anymore thanks to these people.
Ronald McDonald represents a product that has been proven to cause harm to certain individuals.
Hopefully he won't represent this product anymore thanks to these people.
While I agree that it is extremely important for parents to teach their children proper eating habits, I think getting rid of this clown is just as important in our fight against obesity here in America. While many of you seem to think that Ronald McDonald only influences children while they are young, research shows that this impression of a brand often stays with individuals their entire lives. If kids are relating positively to Ronald now and equating that with the fatty food at McDonalds, how is that different from kids relating to Joe Camel and the cigarettes he represented? Both products are bad for you. The only difference is that fast food is legal for patrons to buy under 18 years of age.
For those of you that disagree – I say if that's the case, we should just bring back Joe Camel. It's not HIS fault that the kids were choosing to smoke when they were old enough, it must have been the parents 🙂
*Props to Kristin above for citing the Kaiser Family Foundation's Study!
Did you ever watch Saturday morning cartoons with your kids? Every commercial break has a McDonald's commercial. Kid's are screaming for their "Happy Meal" even before their parents wake up. Corporate greed, pure and simple.
An epidemic of obesity is caused by sitting in front of TVs, video games & computers. Kick the kids outside to play, and even if they eat an occasional hamburger and fries, they'll run the calories off. All of my children are thin, and occasionally eat there because with sports and lessons after school, there isn't always time for a good dinner, but you can't have the kids drop on the field, and there's no time to stop @ home on the way to make up a meal, and eating a home-cooked meal at 9:00 at night just before bed is no better.
hmm..don't these parents have to drive their kids to mcdonalds? how is that the fault of a clown?
If I'm going to be paying taxes to support the healthcare needs of the blubbery hoards that flock to McDonald's, then I want McDonald's patrons to be treated the same way that smokers and hard-drug users are when it comes to healthcare.
Anyone who eats at McDonald's should be denied health insurance. Their food is garbage and Ronald McDonald looks, to me, like a pedophile.
When are these nut jobs going to wake up and stop blaming advertising for all the woes of our children. Does the clown drive them to the restaurant, order and pay for their food. NO!!! It's the parents...everyone wants to absolve the parents of this country of any responsibility for their children's habits and behavior. Give it up! 100% of the responsibility for the children of this nation lies with their parents and NO ONE ELSE!!!
I have never ever stopped at a McDonald's because Ronald McDonald made me do it; however, I have dropped some change in a can, bought a piece a paper with his picture on it, added an extra dollar to my order because of him....The Ronald McDonald House Charity. I believe he has done more good than Corporate Accountability International.
ahhhhhhhh.i have no control over myself. i saw ronald mcdonald. i HAVE to eat there now. ahhhhhhhhhhhh. please,someone do away with him because i am a stupid,lazy american who has no control over myself and someday i will have kids and i wont look after them either. tv and fast food will be my only options...........but seriously,this is the most ridiculous over the top thing i have ever seen. its a good thing people have no free will otherwise this might seem like an idea brought up by a bunch of fcking idiots. why would you waste time and money on this. how about spending the money on feeding underprivileged families or do something that ACTUALLY helps children.....idiots.
Give me a break..
What's next; they will want to make it a federal crime to sell candy or dessert. Condemning or attacking restaurants is not going to address the health issue. What about the contents of the shopping cart?
Restaurants offer menu items based on customer demand not on the whims of special interest groups. This attempt to make food providers the villain is a travesty. There are healthy alternatives for parents to choose from at McDonald’s and most other restaurants and it is the parent’s obligation to ensure the child’s health not a food chain. If these people want to make a difference they should put their energy towards educating parents instead of trying to destroy a specific business.
OK, your kid's obese? Lets find someone else to blame, ok? There's a lot of targets out there and NONE of them are the parents of these kids. Don't even think about taking any responsibility for teaching your own kid healthy ways to eat...much less yourself... lets just wait until he/she's FAT, then look for someone else to blame. Sounds righteous to me. BTW...make sure you text your response while driving....even more righteous!! Don'; bother to pay attention to the road when you drive – you have insurance.
CAI is just trying to pull a stunt to bring them publicity. If not, they would be going after all the burger places. I'm glad to see that the majority of the responses agree that this is not a McDonald's issue.......it is a PARENT issue. Learn to say no to your kids. Learn about portion control. I have three girls. I'm not a perfect parent, but none of them are overweight.......because my wife and I don't allow them to eat junk all day. Also, because when we go to McDonalds (which we do two to three times a month at least), they have a kid's meal and not two Big Mac's and a shake. Heck, even I get a kids meal a lot of times......it's enough food....really!
Here's an irony for you...a vegetarian defending McDonald's! (well, sorta!)
Fast food as the occasional treat has never been the problem. But fast food as a daily habit...that's a serious problem. And the fault isn't with McDonald's, with their food, or with their clown, or even with marketing to children (advertisers have been doing that forever!). The fault is with parents who can't figure out how to say "no."
I agree with what others here have said...it's the responsibility of the parents to teach their kids to eat healthily. Hey, mom and dad...how about cooking dinner at home now and then? No time? Make time. Figure out how. Multiple jobs? Maybe you'll have to learn to do the bulk of your cooking on weekends or at nights and freeze it for weekday and lunchtime use. That's what our parents did. Kids into too much afterschool stuff? Maybe you'll have to drop some of those activities you and your overscheduled kids are into and use that time to cook dinner together (or maybe replace one with a cooking class that you and your kids can take together!). Not enough money? Hah! Got you on that one! Learn how to shop. It's a LOT cheaper, per person, to cook at home, using whole foods, than it is to eat every dinner every night at a fast food restaurant! Try it and see!
Educate yourselves about healthy eating habits and then teach your children. Kids are begging to go to McDonald's? Fine. Schedule one day a week (or per pay period) for a trip to the home of the Happy Meal. An occasional indulgence isn't going to hurt anyone. As someone else said, "moderation in all things" (including moderation!).
Kids like Ronald? Great! How about including them in a donation to Ronald McDonald house, a truly wonderful charity ("hey kids...if you can collect $X in aluminum cans for recycling, and donate the money to Ronald McDonald house, we'll have dinner at McDonald's to celebrate!").
Blaming a company's advertising practices for a nation's poor health is ridiculous.
How about instead of parents letting fictional characters raise their kids they take responsibility and raise their own kids. Who is driving these kids to McDonalds and buying their happy meals? Ronald isn't giving them away for free. It is parents who have the ultimate responsibility and who should take the ultimate blame if their kid is obese. As a mother of three young boys (all of whom are of healthy weight) we go to McDonalds on rare occasions. I teach my kids that it is a treat that they can have occasionally, but that it isn't something to eat every day.
What ever happened to Land of the FREE Home of the Brave? It's a complete shame that people look into stuff way too much. Fast food can kill you... if you EAT IT EVERYDAY. Welcome to Capitalism (or what you think it is). Grow up people of America you sorry excuse for citizens.
If I was Mcdonalds I would tell them to go fly a kite!
This has to stop Mcdonalds should sue them for being stupid and threading Ronald through the mud. I have not seen Ronald Mcdonald in a comericial since I have been a kid and that was 20 years ago most comercials are of regular people so go blame them. Sick kids get a cheer from Ronald and it should and always stay that way.
Jo Camel I can understand why you did that but Ronald?
So are we saying we need yet another "activist group" to take the place the parents ability to say NO to their children? We're slowly becoming an economy and country of total and absolute abolishing of any parental responsibility. So the parent ALLOWS and BUYS the food for kids and it's McD's fault? How about PARENTS get charged with crimes if their kids are unhealthy, but forcing companies using harmless mascots is stupid. As a mother of 2 children, 6 and 2 years old, my son DOES love McDonald's. He likes the fries, not the clown and I bet you he can't even name what their mascot is. As his mother, it is MY job to tell him "NO!".
These people need to get a life. No one buys Mc Donald's because a clown told them to. People like this as slowly destroying all of our icons and the US. Leave Ronald alone.