Ronald 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.