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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Whatever happened to parents taking responsibility for their children? If you don't want your kids eating unhealthy foods, then don't allow them! Leave Ronald MCDonald alone!
Too bad this group doesn't help the homeless and focus on them or other people that really need help.
Is this what we have become as a society where there are people that feel that complaining about a fictitious clown is a good thing?
this obesity "epidemic" is only a recent occurrence, yet, ronald mcdonald has been around for 50 years. perhaps this watch dog group should target the parents preparing a life of obesity for their children.
How about we hold parents responsible for what their children eat. While children certainly like Ronald McDonald they are not generally going to McDonald's on their own to buy a happy meal.
Love how liberals are just sticking their noses into everyone's business. They want to tell you how to eat, what to eat, what to wear, what to drive , where to live, what type of health care, what kind of house......MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS!!!!
McDonald's has always been about hooking people to eat that junk.. have them dump the little toys too.. it drives the parents nuts with screaming kids who want little toys..
As a kid growing up, I probably ate at McDonald's or a similar place once a week. I'm not obese now, and I wasn't obese then. However, these visits were sprinkled in amongst me playing hockey 3-4 times per week, and on my days off, running around the neighbourhood.
Heaven forbid we get kids off their bums and out in the yard or to the park. It's time we stop blaming everyone for the problems, and actually dealing with the source.
CAI wants to raise awareness of their real causes, so they made up this outlandish tale about Ronald McDonald to get everyone in a tizzy. And it worked. How many people who posted here even knew CAI existed before this? How many people went to their website because of this?
See, it worked.
Nobody is really stupid enough to believe that getting rid of a company's mascot will force a menu change, or make parents stop shoving junk food into their kids' mouths.
I always thought RM was creepy looking, even more so after John Wade Gacey, but then again I never liked clowns. However, I think this group is nuts and and their focus, while well meaning, is ridiculous. If they have so much time to spare, why dont they help search for a cure for cancer or some other disease or come clean my house. They need a life.
It seems to me that people just simply have too much time on their hands. Leave Ronald alone. Parents need to grow up and take responsibility for their children. You control what they eat when they are young enough to be influenced by a clown.
I could not be more tired of the attitude that our society has adopted, you know, the one that it is not our fault that we are a nation of obese people. It is not our fault. We are all brainwashed idiots led to the slaughter by any one of a host of make believe characters....
Get real and get over it.
Here's the deal. They have people in charge of their lives. They're called parents.
Where does Corporate Responsibility International get its money? Who is furnishing the dollars to these slanderers? Who are these freaks?
I think it is absolutely absurd. Whatever happened to a parent saying no. I have a child that would love to have McDonalds more, I limit her to once a month for an outing with her friends and she is never allowed to supersize. I am a working parent and yet we manage to eat a home cooked meal every night. Everyone loves to blame the fast food industry, but the last time I check the parents had to give that child the money to buy McDonald's. I think some of these people need to step back and look at who is really causing the health issues with these kids, PARENTS. So, maybe we should start protesting parents to make them aware they are parents, should act like a parent and not a friend. They should stop making it so easy and take alittle time to prepare a well balanced meal.
So who's next, the Easter Bunny for promoting eating candy? Santa Claus? I'm glad this organization exists to protect children. God forbid their parents were ever held responsible.
“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.”
Right. Because I'm hounded ALL DAY by Ronald McDonald to buy food from McDonalds.
this is the DUMBEST thing i have heard today!!!!!! why does the government allow funding to these groups that are trying to change everything that is supposively "wrong" with the world (in their own opions)? if the government would stop funding all these groups doing stupid studies like these we would actually have money! allowing them to do studies or change the way things have been done for almost 50 years without former complaints is assinine!!!...it is not the food chains fault that are getting children addicted to this kind of food, it is the parents that take the children to these places!!... so what next we stop letting the parents make choices of what to feed their child.. where do these idoits eat when they are out campaining or doing "research" we know that they are not going home or bringing a brown bag!!! some peoples children now a days!!!!
Really? With all the meaningful causes that people could be spending their time and resources on, they are going after a (pretty lame looking) clown.
Ok this is just sad. It is up to the parents to watch what they feed their children! Point Blank! The parents are the ones buying this food for their kids. If you don't want them to have it then don't buy it. Ronald McDonald isn't hurting anyone.
I know when my 4 year old sees Ronald McDonald he thinks, "hey, I have a job, a car, and my own money, so I'm gonna go find this clown and eat the food he tells me to eat"... I'm glad they're putting a stop to it right now before he makes himself fat and unhealthy.
I think they should leave well enough alone. McDonalds has good good choices and adults can make up their own mind.
It also has Ronald's House. It takes care of families with ill children.
Obesity is a problem in this country and we need to address it.
Better food choices at McDonalds is one way.
There are othe solutions, but, I think going after Ronald McDonald is not of them.
Can't this group of people find something more resourceful to do? At least Ronald isn't fat. How about the Big Boy for the Big Boy restaurants? He sure is fat looking. Ronald is the mascot of McDonald's just like all the other mascots for other companies. And why is it that it's always the minority that wins out? We don't need these people running our lives. What happens to the Ronald McDonald houses? What would they rename them? Get a life people!
its not like he is SHOVING cheeseburgers and french fries down kids' throats
I find it rather appalling the number of excuses given here as to why McDonald's as a corporation should be more responsible for a child's health than the parents of said child. Wake up parents and take some responsibility. One comment suggested that McDonald's was all that some could afford. I'm sorry, but if I were to spend 2 or 3 dollars per child for a meal at McDonald's, for the same money I could provide them not one healthy meal prepared at home but rather meals for an entire day. It doesn't take much effort (or expense) to prepare a simple healthy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If you're so busy having to work multiple jobs that you don't have time to spend a few minutes putting together a nutritious meal for your child/children, then perhaps you need to reevaluate your lifestyle. Do you really need a new car every 3 years, cell phones for every member of the family (with internet capability), cable tv, video games? While these are things that might be nice to have, they're all far from a necessity.
How many kids are actually scared of clowns, and how many actually like clowns. Ronald McDonald has no influence over the kids. Its the toy in the box with the cheeseburger! lol.. really people....
Getting rid of the clown will not do anything. As soon as McDs has to display the calorie count of their food on the menu, people will think twice.
Another shining example of blaming everyone but the parents. Let's all blame the clown, instead of people who have no parenting skills whatsovever and have no backbone to tell their kids they simply cannot have that cheeseburger. This is nothing short of sickening.
These people need to get a life, for God's sake! I'm no defender of McDonald's but it should be acknowledged that they have taken great steps to make their menu more healthy and to advise customers of the fat and calorie content of their food items. Are they the paragon of healthy eating? Of course not. Do they engage in deceptive advertising to get children to buy their products? I don't think so. Ultimately, it's the responsibility of parents everywhere to see that their children eat the right foods and in the right portions.
The people at Corporate Accountability needs to find something more productive to do with their time and money. The people who really deserve a break today are us-and McDonalds-from these clowns.
Are you kidding me?? I seriously doubt kids could name Ronald McDonald if you showed them a photo of the character. I can't remember the last time I saw him in a commercial, or a statue of him in a McDonalds. He doesn't have a cartoon show either. The only reference I've noticed him on is Ronald McDonald house and once in a blue moon on the side of a happy meal. Frankly, most of the ads I've seen for McDonalds lately have been promoting their healthier options, their McCafe, or the Fillet o Fish. No ads pushing happy meals. If the people at this organization actually think getting rid of Ronald McDonald will do anything for childhood obesity, they are serioiusly misguided.
unbelievable...shame on the stupid idiots that can actually accuse a fictitious character (or a business) of enticing children to eat anything. Again, and for the n'th time..PARENTS it is your responsibility as big, grown-up people to teach your children and actually participate in the growth and learning of your children. That includes their diet.
Are you dissappointed that you are actually expected to do all of that when you make the decision to bring children into the world? Well, you are. Get over it, get over your immaturity and for pete's sake, take control of your children and stop making them everyone else's problem.
@ real truth:
Comparing McDonald's to a drug cartel is a really poor comparison. You claim that fat is addictive, yet there is not one reliable study that backs up your claim.
You wouldn't know the real truth if it hit you in the head, so it must be quite easy for you to make false claims and compare Ronald McDonald to Pablo Escobar. You really need to get a clue.
What useful purpose is this going to serve? Ask yourself when the last time was that you saw a McDonald's commercial with Ronald McDonald in it? In the last month? In the last six months? In the last year? It has been years since McDonald's used the clown in any of its television advertising and would remind the people of Corporate Accountability that the Ronald McDonald character was developed in the mid 1960's when we did not know as much about McDonald's as we do now. By the same token our parents didn't take us to McDonald's as frequently as today's parents do.
The bottom line is this: If you want to place the blame for childhood obesity somewhere place it where it belongs: with overly permissive parents who are too self-absorbed or too lazy to make sure their children eat healthy, balanced meals. I'm not trying to defend McDonald's but they have gone a long way to make sure that customers know how many calories and how much fat their menu items contain, and nobody can deny that they have put many healthy foods such as yogurt and fresh fruit on their menu in recent years. I just don't see how forcing McDonald's to retire a corporate icon that they haven't used very much in the past several years anyway is going to make any difference with the issue of childhood obesity. This strikes me more as the sort of nonsensical grandstanding we've come to expect from the likes of PETA.
This is a choice among thousands of others that are available in this country. If kids get hooked on this stuff it has nothing to do with Ronald and more to due with the parents...where is the personal accountability and responsibility...typical Left, blame someone for your actions. It makes me sick that they are trying to get rid of something when all they had to do is drive by instead of hitting the drive through..it is a choice and that choice is yours not the clowns.
Stop the madness! Irresponsible parenting is to blame. Ronald McDonald hasn't hooked kids on unhealthy foods. Parents have. McDonald’s hasn't directed fast food to kids. Parents have. The mascot doesn't make children “vulnerable to manipulations to marketing.” Parents do. Place the responsibility and blame where it belongs... on parents who are lazy, or parents who don't take the time or make the effort to plan simple, healthy meals. Blame it on parents who do not educate their kids on how to eat properly (of course, then they'd have to set a good example). Parents make all the difference in the world, and when they teach their kids how to make healthy lifestyle choices, then things will improve. It is parents who turn their kids on to junk food when they fail to plan meals, making the excuse that they can't eat healthily because they're busy running their overscheduled kids from school to soccer or some other activity. You can eat healthily if you make the time and effort to do so. And, that doesn't mean you can't eat at McDonald's once in a while. You don't have to deprive your kids (or yourself) of occasional treats or sweets, and you don't have to eat organic. As a parent of three kids (20, 16 and 13 y.o.) who eat healthy and lead busy but healthy lives, I know it can be done. Just be a responsible adult, be a responsible parent, and, simply, set a good example for them to follow. Young kids don't go to McDonald's because of Ronald McDonald. They go there because their parents take them there.
So, a clown is causing parents to take their kids to Mickey D's and forcing them to buy their kids high fat, junk food. Sounds like another attempt to absolve parents of any responsibility in raising their kids. Parent-up and take responsibility, do the right thing. You have a brain for a reason and not to keep your ears separated.
Perhaps these horrible, horrible mascots could be used for good? If they can cause millions of kids to join the obesity wagon, couldn't they also be used to motivate a little physical activity? Seems these activist groups could be spending more time and money on possitive roll models than crying like a bunch of babies.
We should raise our children to be honest and truthful people. So lets get rid of those iconic liers. Let's get rid of politicians and Lawers.... huh.. that doesn't make too much sense either..
For real? Are you people serious? I mean really? Most of you are going to let these people tell you that an inanimate clown told you to go and buy 10 big macs 4 larg fries and then try to wash it down with a diet coke. You have got to be kidding. I am a 35 year old man with two kids. most of the time i cook dinner. sometimes we go out to eat. every now and again we eat fast food, but the last time i checked. I. Let me repeat that for some of you slow people. I am the adult. I have the job and therefore the money. I not my kids determine what we will be eating. I wish i would have had one of you for a parent when i was growing up. therefore if and when i grew up to become a fat lazy good for nothing bum, it wouldnt be my fault. it would be because Fred Flintstone, and George Jetson were angry workaholics, which stunted my desire to succeed in life. It is always easier to blame someone else for our short commings. How about you get little Billy or what ever that fat little kids name is and take them outside. Dont buy them a new XBox for Christmas. Get them a dang bike. Make them go outside and play do things that kids do, play sports, build a tree house. Stop looking for someone else to raise your kids. The responsibility is not the Governments, not the corporations, not the police, and not the schools. It is yours. if you dont want it then dont polute the gene pool. Like any like minded individual would say. " Dont forget to have your self spade or neutered to control the stupidity problem."
Well we where succesful at killing Michael Jackson, I suppose Ronald McDonald is next, who's next the Pope.
Charlie Bell , God Bless! , transformed MD into a more healthy company, and RMD House does alot for Kids with Cancer who might not make it, but at least they can smile in their dying moments.
So Lay off!
Parents need to take responsibility for what they are allowing their children to eat a 5 yr old cannot drive to McDonalds and buy dinner. Individuals need to start taking responsibility for their own actions and stop finding something else to blame it on...the clown made me eat it. Give me a break!
Be serious! Now companies have to have "hate group approved" trademarks and mascots? I agree with the people who favor parental and individual responsibility.
I'm 6'3 220 lbs. and in good condition for a 47 year-old. I like my burgers and fries.....I think Ronald is a hoot, but if you check the actuarial tables......I'm overweight. Look at the numbers again. Get serious. Good eating habits, good conditioning, good muscle tone, etc. are paramount. I should know that after 22 yrs. in the army. I should also know that people are resposible for their own actions.
The purpose of advertising is to sell things....if you can't resist the advertisments whose fault is that. Boycott all you want, but forcing a company with a non-age restricted, legal product to change its ad strategy is simply wrong. This is another symptom of the breakdown of our society and people's need to place blame on others. It needs to be stopped.
You have got to be kidding me!!!!!! There is are 2 wars going on and we have people trying to fire Ronald McDonald. My son is a Solider!!!! Get real people!!!!!!! Get Real!!!!!!!!
Dear Corporate Accountability International,
In regards to your public relations coup in trying to retire Ronald McDonald – congratulations, you got people talking about your organization. And it's way more interesting than trying to motivate people into a discussion about how food is grown in this country and how the food industry is run. But in truth, how realistic is your proposal? Most of us grew up with all of these icons and are doing okay.
If you are so concerned with childhood obesity, then put your efforts into real change. Support educational efforts for kids and parents regarding nutrition. Support efforts to make school lunches healthier. Support bringing recess back into the school day and support returning P.E. to the educational curriculum.
If you are concerned with the effects of marketing to children – well, where will you stop? Are all the various marketing icons now fair game? And why use your resources in such a way? Instead of working to ban a cartoon character, why not do something useful like creating some sort of educational curriculum that teaches children how to analyze marketing ploys? When we watch TV at home, we explain to our kids how the company is trying to manipulate the viewer into buying their product. Teach people how to do that. Or work to help some parents learn how to say NO. Because that's a key problem here.
But better yet, put your energy and efforts into understanding that we don't need a paternalistic organization trying to ban this, that or the other when what needs to happen is that people need to be informed and make decisions for themselves. Parents have to learn to be parents. People need to learn to be responsible for their own choices and that includes fast food choices, cereal choices, etc. I don't buy things based on whether or not there's cute character on the front and if a parent does, then that person needs some education. But what is your plan, take away choices so that nobody can make a bad one? That just smacks of a "holier-than-thou, I know best" mentality. You want to make the decisions about what Americans should see or hear or watch or eat, and then pat us all on the head and say, see there, you don't need to think about that because we've decided for you. No thank you. I can decide for myself.
I understand the concept of corporate accountability but there is also parental and personal responsibility. Ronald McDonald doesn't buy the Happy Meals. And I don't think that his presence or lack thereof will stop people from eating at McDonald's occasionally. I would bet that most people in this day and age know that eating that type of food is unhealthy. Almost everybody I know, everybody, knows that fruits and vegetables are healthier than a Big Mac and fries. Frankly, I'm sick of hearing about it. We have bigger problems to deal with.
So take all your good intentions and focus them on something more useful, more meaningful in the long-term. Your organization seems to support organic farming – great. Love it. Work to educate people on the benefits of organic foods and then work to bring down the costs. And I'm guessing that this is part of your strategy to do that. With the attention of the media focused on your "Retire Ronald" proposal, you get to talk about the agriculture industry and its problems and the benefits of organic foods. I guess if it gets people to pay attention to your underlying philosophy, then you've succeeded. So again, congratulations on the PR move – you got people talking about you and you got me spending time writing this e-mail. You're hoping for news coverage, which you got. Move on to other, more important issues.
I swear people in this country have nothing better to do. I have grown up with the ronald mcdonald icon all of my life, and never has that been the reason that I got out to eat Mcdonald's food. i choose to eat it because I like it. RIght next to my workplace is a Ronald Mcdonald House for children who are termially ill and I have yet to see a decline in patients that go there. So to attack the mascot and try to pin the rise in obesity on him is not only absurd, it's shameful and disrespectful. Parents are the people who control the eating habits of their children. If they fail in doingso then its no one's fault but their own. Save Ronald Mcdonald!!
Thankfully some Americans understand what this group is getting at. Go read these comments and realize that this "retirement" is just to make the public aware of what's going on! Obviously there are bigger issues at hand, but would you have even thought about it if you didn't read this blog post?
What about Tony the Tiger! He's Grrrrrrreat! Or not? Enough with all this! Parents need to stop giving in to kids and make better choices.
Has anyone even *seen* Ronald lately? Seriously. Is he in any commercials or standing outside McDonald's restaurants anymore? The McDonald's commercials I've seen don't have him and the McDonald's I drive past don't display him. Admittedly I don't watch kids shows either, but the Ronald commercials on YouTube are from 1990 and before. This group is going after an icon from 20 years ago.
It is better to try to create a safer world for our children, than constantly have to fill their lives with the word "No." Here is the opportunity. We've received so much bad publicity as a country for having the obesity problems that we have. Rather than just continuing to be a country that does nothing about this problem, why not ban all these ridiculous characters who market unhealthy food to our children? It would be wise to wake up and take control of our children, as so many of you say, by saying yes to this ban, and to all the other "child-friendly" brand characters marketing sugary, greasy, unhealthy foods to our kids.
Seriously?? Retiring Ronald McDonald is not going to make me stop taking my children to McDonalds. I feed my children healthy on a daily basis, to include a meat, veggies, fruit or applesauce, and milk.....I do take them to McDonald's from time-to-time. They love Ronald and I could never imagine retiring him from the famous fast food restaurant. My children are tall, thin, and healthy, and fast food doesn't hurt from time-to-time. McDonald's has improved their overall quality in their food and they have brought in a lot of healthy choices....salads, milk, apple juice.
It amazes me that people come up with crazy things like this. I guess Corporate Accountability has nothing better to do.....and they get paid for nonsense like this. Leave Ronald McDonald alone....in fact, bring back Grimace, the Hamburglar, the Fry Guys, Mayor McCheese, Captain Crook, and Birdie the Early Bird. I loved the characters and I miss them!
its funny how these parents who "care" so much for the youth are too busy with these causes, blaming everyone else for their kids problems . when i was a kid we didnt have weight issues because my mother told me NO!!! maybe some of these parents should try that first before they blame another
Ridiculous. Seems people aren't happy unless they are attacking or criticizing something. Seems they think the rest of us aren't smart enough to make our own choices and live with the results.