Should Ronald McDonald Retire?
By Tom Ryan
A coalition of health professionals and parents last week called for the resignation
of Ronald McDonald. They claim the 50-year old mascot encourages kids to eat
unhealthy foods and contributes to childhood obesity problems.
Corporate Accountability International, which has waged campaigns against
bottled water and tobacco companies and was behind the effort to retire Joe
Camel from Camel cigarettes, released a new poll from Lake Research Partners
that showed that while two-thirds of Americans had a favorable impression of
Ronald McDonald, 47 percent said they support retiring Ronald as a corporate
mascot. Over half say they "favor stopping corporations from using cartoons and other children’s
characters to sell harmful products to children."
At "retirement parties" held at various McDonald’s and college campuses
last Wednesday across the country, volunteers encouraged people to sign retirement
cards for Ronald.
"No icon has ever been more effective in hooking kids on a harmful product," said
Deborah Lapidus, the senior organizer at Corporate Accountability International,
in a statement. "Kids have become more obese and less healthy on his watch.
He’s a deep-fried Joe Camel for the 21st Century. He deserves a break,
and so do our kids."
The front page of the movement’s website, retireronald.org, shows a cartoon
of a retirement party for the clown with attendees including Joe Camel, Spuds
MacKenzie of Bud Light fame and the Marlboro Man.
McDonald’s released a statement calling Ronald McDonald "a beloved brand
ambassador for McDonald’s" and touted his charity efforts.
"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," McDonald’s said in the statement.
Discussion Questions: Should
McDonald’s retire Ronald McDonald?
If yes, how should McDonald’s handle it? Do you expect criticism over such
cartoon and character brand mascots to continue to grow over child obesity
- Kids Deserve
a Break Today: Parents, Health Experts, Children’s
Advocates Call on McDonald’s to Retire Ronald – retiredronald.org
Accountability International poll shows Ronald McDonald contributes to obesity
epidemic – New York Daily
- Group tells Ronald McDonald to take a hike – CNN.com