Watchdog group wants Ronald McDonald to retire

Posted March 26, 2010 at 6:11 p.m.

CBB-Ronald_McDonald_kids-ma.jpgRonald McDonald slaps first graders hands as they head to lunch at Charles Gates Dawes Elementary School in 2008. Ronald McDonald was at the school to launch of the new Ronald McDonald Care Mobile\, a pediatric mobile health care vehicle. (Chicago Tribune Photo by Heather Stone)

By Julie Wernau
| A coalition of health professionals, parents and corporate
accountability advocates is calling for Ronald McDonald to retire as a spokesman for the nation’s largest restaurant chain, saying he has too much influence on kids.

Corporate Accountability International, which has waged campaigns against bottled water companies and tobacco companies, said it plans to present the results of a survey Wednesday showing that most Americans agree.

The group will release the results at a lunch-time “retirement party” for Oak Brook-based
McDonald’s Chief Happiness Officer, a 50-year veteran of the company, at the McDonald’s restaurant at Chicago Avenue and State Street in Chicago.

The organization — which was also behind the effort to retire Joe
Camel from Camel cigarettes — is inviting Chicagoans to sign
retirement cards for the mascot at the McDonald’s. The event is one of
nearly two dozen similar ones to be held at McDonald’s restaurants and
colleges across the country that day, according to Corporate
Accountability International spokesman Nick Guroff.

A spokeswoman for McDonald’s said the company wasn’t invited to the
party, but said Ronald’s role as a brand ambassador hasn’t changed.
It’s to bring out the fun side of having meals with family and to
promote an active lifestyle, she said.

“He is the heart and soul of Ronald McDonald House Charities, which lends a helping hand to families in their time of need,” McDonald’s told the Chicago Tribune in a written statement.

“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,” the company said. “That’s what Ronald McDonald is all about, which our customers know and appreciate.”

The group said the report features more than 200 photographs of “Ronald sitings” at schools and other child-focused events and aims to stop McDonald’s from gearing its advertising toward children in light of what they called a “fast-food-industry childhood obesity crisis.”

Guroff said other details of that study will not be made available until Wednesday.


Companies in this article


Read more about this company »


  1. vujada March 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Yeah right, like Ronald was caught jamming cheeseburgers down some kid’s throat How preposterous this is, and for that previous nut case that said this was probably sanctioned by tea baggers….. I’m afraid not, this crap is always authored by libs, wanting to dictate for everyone what is right and wrong because they believe no one is capable of making such a big decision without their petty meddling. If McDonals has any guts they’ll tell them to put it where the sun don’t shine…. Please MC’D’s, hire me so I can be your spokesman….

  2. Smc March 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    It’s sad to say this, but survival of the fittest will ultimately sort this out. A lot of dumb parents are putting their children at a huge disadvantage in life by feeding them a steady diet of fast food multiple times a week.
    On the other hand, if you think TV commercials don’t influence behavior, then I know some TV networks that owe my clients a boatload of refunds in media budgets.

  3. Arlington Badger March 29, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    It’s not Ronald’s fault for parents giving in and giving Happy Meals to kids. Childhood obesity has one culprit – parents. They, and they alone, decide what a child eats from birth. They instill good or bad nutrional habits. They are the role model.
    And yes, you can be selective at McDonalds. When I’m travelling on road trips, I will occasionally stop in at a McDonalds and get a grilled chicken salad. If you don’t pour the whole darn packet of dressing (they give you waaaay too much) and use it sparingly, it’s a decent meal. Do I occasionally have cheeseburger or nuggets, sure.. but all in moderation. Ohhh, that’s another thing parents need to teach their brood.

  4. Duncan Druhl March 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Poor Ronald. It isn’t him – it is the busybodies with far too much time and money on their hands, always finding anybody to blame but the individuals involved.
    “It isn’t my fault for buying McDonald’s in gross quantities for my children, it is Ronald McDonald’s fault.” Yeah, right.
    Every prohibition there is would vapourise IF personal responsibility was really what we believe in. But it isn’t. It is always easier and more convenient to blame anyone but ourselves for the fat problem, the smoking problem, the drink problem, the personality problem, the socialisation problem, the crime problem, bad driving, bad breath, neuroses, pollution, the crime rate, divorce, Congress, everything is anyone’s fault but our own…excepting that last issue – THAT is everyone’s problem…and they’ll only be too happy to “solve” all your problems by adding another 50,000 people and countless agencies to their budget at a cost to you of $50 Billion.
    Sad, isn’t it?

  5. Patrick March 29, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    These people have way too much time on there hands…

  6. JB March 30, 2010 at 8:13 a.m.

    I don’t know too many young kids who have the cash to lay down at McDonald’s or a car to drive themselves there for a meal. Hmmmm, makes one wonder who is in control!?

  7. Will March 30, 2010 at 9:58 a.m.

    Look, I think marketing towards kids is out of control. Yes, that’s true. Though, at the end of the day, it’s really the parent’s choice.

  8. Crest March 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    How about if we retire PARENTS who succumb to wishes of their kids who want make bad food choices?

  9. Big B March 30, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Keep the big picture in mind. This isn’t about the clown at all. Nor is it about healthy eating habits in kids, parental responsibility, or an upcoming government take-over of food. It’s about a fringe group with a clever name (Corporate Accountability International) getting their 15 minutes of fame. Kudos to them for their success — they did make it to the “business news” page, after all.

  10. Brad A March 30, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    While these “Doctors” and others are trying to get rid of iconic symbols, I propose that the medical profession rid itself of its long standing “staff & serpent” icon.
    The serpent harks back to the days of witch doctors and magic. I posit that there are thousands, nay hundreds of thousands, of people who still refuse to see members of the
    medical profession for fear of having their heads “shrunk”
    or their bowel movements examined or various vital
    fluids removed from their bodies.
    Oh wait, Doctors are still doing all these things.
    So, we’ve got a bunch of superstitious witch doctors trying
    to exorcise a clown.
    My money is on the clown.

  11. Lola Floyd March 31, 2010 at 11:56 a.m.

    Kudos to Corporate Accountability International for this campaign. I agree it is time to retire the clown and other marketing icons that are hooking our children on products from cradle to grave.
    The big problem is McDonald’s uses Ronald to get around “gatekeepers,” the terms executives use to describe parents intent on making healthy choices for their kids. He’s a deep-fried Joe Camel for the 21st Century. He’s everywhere parents can’t constantly monitor and he’s effective at making children desire what they’re told they can’t have.
    Marketing icons have a profound impact on children, and Ronald McDonald is arguably the most effective marketing icon of all time. Until the age of about eight, children do not understand that marketing is an attempt to sell them a product, and one thirty-second
    commercial can influence the brand preferences of children as young as two.
    No matter which way you spin it Ronald is the chief promoter of a brand that has hooked kids on unhealthy food, spurring an epidemic of diet-related diseases like diabetes.
    Happy Retirement.

  12. Prentice G. March 31, 2010 at 11:59 a.m.

    I don’t get why everyone is standing up for a giant corporation (who has billions of dollars and can fend for itself!)
    Of course parents should decide what their kids eat. But, the real question is, how much do parents get to decide when a multi-billion dollar corporation is doing everything they can to market to kids (in schools! in hospitals! in libraries! online!) when parents aren’t even around? Personally, I want to choose what my kids eat and I don’t want Ronald McDonald or any other corporate icon trying to teach my young children about brands. Leave my kids alone, McDonald’s!

  13. William March 31, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    There’s no question the charities have done a great deal to help sick kids – and its work is to be commended. There are serious questions raised when it comes to having the face of a charity that helps kids get better, promote unhealthy food to our kids. Why must the corporation use such an honorable cause as a marketing opportunity? Could it not serve the same children, without the cross-promotion of its burgers and fries? The affixing of its unhealthy brand to a health institution?

  14. Cynthia Becker April 1, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I feel these people have far to much time on their hands. If they are worried about children they should do something about all the sex offenders who live next to schools. The people who should take responsibilty for their children being overweight is their parents, feed them healthy and help them make the right choices, and the kids should be alright with fast food once in awhile.So if you feel that seeing a clown will make you over eat then I strongly recommend you stay away form the circus.

  15. Veronica April 1, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Why is all the problems our children are incurring everyone’s fault but the parent?
    If your child can convince you to take him or her to McDonald’s whenever he or she wishes…….it’s Not Ronald with the influrence….it’s that child. Get off of McDonald’s lot and learn how to tell your child NO>

  16. Lora April 2, 2010 at 9:23 a.m.

    Since when do the kids tell the parents what to do? Last I knew you had to be 16 to drive. Are these obese kids – toddlers driving themselves to McDonalds!!! Jeepers wake up America you are responsible for the children you gave birth to or adopted. Quit blaming others for your mistakes learn from mistakes it’s amazing what you can learn. Everyone makes them. Maybe if we would all be responsible we wouldn’t have to put so many stupid warnings on packages such as hot coffee will cause burns no kidding seriously BE RESPONSIBLE!!!!

  17. Tim April 2, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    McDonalds caters to have children visit their stores; however, I have not seen in recent years any advertisement pushing a particular food product. As many have mentioned there are many healthy food options at McDonalds for children and adults, but there is no media interest in talking about the healthy food. If Ronald has so much influence, why doesn’t this group recognize the influence Ronald has in encouraging children to exercise and eat good food? If Ronald is so influential, why don’t we have him work on curing all of the behavior problems we have with children? Sounds ridiculous, Right? So is the idea of retiring Ronald. As far as the toys in happy meals, I know when my children where young, they were more interested in the toy than the food.

  18. Dave April 3, 2010 at 2:23 a.m.

    Retire Ronnie McD? Get a life. It is knuckleheads like you that are destroying this country with your rules, regulations and shackles. McDonalds is a very successful and efficient corproation that provides useful products, not to mention jobs, for many people, and Socialists like you resent that. This is nothing but a way to impose your radical agenda on the American people, and we, the people reject you.
    If you feel so strongly that your vegan way is better, than open up a vegetarian restaurant and see and see how long it takes you to fail.
    The main reason that there are so many obese kids is that they are inside playing video games instead of outside playing and engaging in real exercise, as it was when I was a kid.
    Oh, by the way, McDonalds offers salads, in case you did not know. You have choices.
    That reminds me, I am getting hungry. My kids are getting hungry, too. They need to gain weight, and I need to lose, so, I’ll have the salad and they will have the the Big Macs. How’s that for logic? (Something that you don’t understand.)
    In short, go live your miserable lives, and leave the rest of us alone

  19. MidnightDStroyer April 6, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.

    The way I see it:
    Yes, this “watchdog group” has the Right to Freedom of Speech, but there are other LAW factors they’re not taking into consideration:
    1-Ronald McDonald has (by US Supreme Court ruling) the unalienable Right to engage in a lawful occupation to earn a source of living. Indeed, since no one else’s equal Rights under the Law are not being trampled, it is a lawful occupation.
    2-Ronald McDonald has a contract of employment with the McDonalds corporation to act as spokesperson for the company. This “watchdog party” is NOT a signatory party to this contract & have nothing to say about it.
    3-The US Supreme Court also ruled that the Lawful exercise of an inalienable Right can never be converted into a crime. By “lawful exercise,” it is meant that no one is allowed to violate anyone else’s equal Rights under the Law while exercising their own Rights–This is the basis of the old judgement that, if anyone is hurt when you falsely yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre, then you have violated they’re Rights & have NOT lawfully exercised your Freedom of Speech.
    4-By trying to use Defamation of Character & other slanderous/libelous methods, this “watchdog group” is indeed trying to void Ronald’s Contract of Employment by forcing his early retirement. Clearly, this is a trampling of Ronald’s Right to Engage in a Lawful Occupation.
    My opinion, when considerding thw Supreme Law of the Land: these extreme far-left wingnuts should learn that there is NO LAWFUL RIGHT to trample someone else’s Rights & no one has any right to tell anyone else how to live their life.

  20. Liz Bee April 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    You know it would make a difference to get rid of a hugely recognizable cartoon character who is making unhealthy, fast food attractive to our kids. When you look at the #’s of kids who are now obese and you look at the way are food is now produced and brought to our table, not just fast food, you see this is an epidemic. Retiring Ronald is a small move in the right direction.

  21. Child in the 70s April 27, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    McDonald’s has been around for decades. Why is it a problem now? Instead of banning McDonald’s and the Cookie Monster, how about
    3. CABLE TV

  22. Salvage Architectural Antiques May 11, 2010 at 9:28 a.m.

    has anyone bought here ? or am i going to get ripped off ?

  23. Salvage Architectural May 11, 2010 at 9:31 a.m.

    Anyone here buy antiques on ebay? I really got screwed there and can find nothing on alli baba. This place comes up in searches for architectural antiques but I never heard of them