Chicago Sun-Times
Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Accountability organization wants Ronald McDonald to retire


McDonald's longtime mascot Ronald McDonald is a wanted man. A man a Boston-based not-for-profit organization known as Corporate Accountability International wants to force into retirement. Toward that end, a search party comprised of 20 people, including clowns and retired corporate mascots Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man, has been roaming Chicago today to seek out Ronald and hustle him into a van waiting to ferry him into retirement.

Why is this organization so intent on retiring Ronald? Well, they maintain Ronald McDonald is a very visible part of McDonald's "predatory" marketing to children -- which they suggest is a major contributing factor to the current epidemic of childhood obesity. The Corporate Accountability folks also maintain they aren't alone in calling for Ronald's retirement. A recent poll by Lake Research Partners found that close of half of the American public is ready for Ronald's retirement.

But we wouldn't hold our breath. McDonald's has invested way too much time and money into maintaining Ronald's iconic status at the burger behemoth to cave to some groups that believe he contributes to childhood obesity.

Still, the search posse is marching around Chicago to try and find Ronald on the eve of McDonald's annual shareholders meeting in Oakbrook on Thursday. The march was scheduled to move from Millennium Park up Michigan Avenue to Leo Burnett, one of McDonald's roster agencies and then on to Pioneer Plaza and the Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's eatery in River North.


There's no doubt McDonald's has invested boat loads in the clown and related marketing to kids. Bowing out won't be easy, but it'll happen. I think you only need look at the history of advertising and what has been acceptable over time. The mascots you mentioned were put to rest just 15 years ago after long runs, themselves. Seems like you're skittish to link billions of marketing dollars to the way kids eat, as well...despite the evidence. In a few years, just as reporters were reticent to acknowledge the science and link global warming directly to man's activities, there will not be a need for qualifications and quotes to describe the very real impact of predatory marketing to kids.

And Bozo would be a target with all his innuendo aimed at parents.

Wow, half of all Americans want Ronald to retire? That's pretty huge.

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About the blogger

Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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This page contains a single entry by Lewis Lazare published on May 19, 2010 1:17 PM.

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McDonald's CEO says Ronald McDonald isn't going away is the next entry in this blog.

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