Group still pushing for Ronald McDonald to retire

Posted May 19, 2010 at 1:36 p.m.

The Corporate Accountability International brought clowns and retired spokesman Joe Camel to draw attention to its call for McDonald’s to retire Ronald McDonald. ( Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune)

By Wailin Wong | A
corporate watchdog group renewed its call for McDonald’s to retire
Ronald McDonald, hoping to build on momentum from a recent White House
report recommending that food companies stop marketing junk food to

Boston-based Corporate Accountability International, whose previous
campaigns include the retirement of Joe Camel, held a protest in
downtown Chicago on Wednesday that kicked off at Millennium Park and
ended at the retro McDonald’s restaurant at 600 N. Clark.

The group, consisting of about 20 protesters, also made a stop outside the Tribune Tower. Some members were dressed as clowns and held signs saying “Chicagoans for Retiring Ronald” and “Clowns for Retiring Ronald.” Other activists were dressed as Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man.

Corporate Accountability launched its campaign to retire Ronald McDonald in late March. The group is also planning to send representatives to McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday morning in Oak Brook, although it did not submit a shareholder’s resolution on the matter for consideration. Instead, the group will try to get to the microphone during the open question-and-answer session and hand-deliver written comments from concerned consumers to executives.

“A resolution is a tactic we might employ in the future,” said senior organizer Deborah Lapidus.

Lapidus said the continued use of Ronald McDonald as a mascot is unethical because his image “builds brand loyalty and eating habits that can last a lifetime” among children who are vulnerable to such marketing. She added that McDonald’s has “transformed Ronald to appear to be the ambassador of their corporate social responsibility programs,” sending him to schools, libraries and other locations where parents are often absent.

The Ronald retirement campaign is just the most symbolic aspect of the group’s campaign, which asks McDonald’s to quit targeting kids directly with all forms of marketing.

“Retiring Ronald is just the beginning,” Lapidus said. “Really, Ronald is the pioneer of marketing to kids that all marketing icons have since emulated.”

In a written statement, McDonald’s affirmed its support for its mascot and said the “beloved brand ambassador” is here to stay.

In addition to representing Ronald McDonald House Charities, he “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.



  1. andrew May 19, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    get a life. kids don’t buy food, their parents buy it for them. and yeah, every kid loves mcDonalds. i did too. but it was only a treat for good grades when i was little.
    ask yourself if kids will stop eating mcDonald’s if Ronald is gone. come on now. do you really believe that?
    there are so many better things to spend your time crying about. in fact, i’m going to go take my own advice and stop worrying about this myself…

  2. endeavors4ever May 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    “Group still pushing for Ronald McDonald to retire” and the Tribune is still obsessed with reporting this story. A better solution, assuming one has the intelligence to see through this nonsense, is not to give this group any more press than they deserve.

  3. TJC May 19, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    20 protesters? What a movement, why would you even cover this garbage.

  4. KWF May 19, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    People in clown costumes are only taken serious by clowns.

  5. Mean Joe May 19, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Are they all going to the twisted balloon for drinks afterwards?

  6. John May 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Sarah Palin could take his place, world’s most famous clown.

  7. LLL May 19, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Does this mean they will go after the Burger King to abdicate the throne? How about Wendy, is she getting kicked out too?

  8. crobb May 19, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Ah yes…one of the major issues of our times.

  9. Tony May 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Why don’t these people STFU ?

  10. Richard S. May 19, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    These protesters are stupid. Let’s say they actually do get McDonald’s to retire Ronald. Do they think McDonald’s will stop advertising to kids? Do they think parents will stop buying happy meals for their kids?
    The answer is NO.
    Why aren’t these clowns protesting against parents that buy everything their children want. It isn’t Ronald McDonald that forces parents to buy what their children see on TV.

  11. s crane May 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Now THAT’S a worthy cause. Do people actually make contributions to this group?

  12. BobOnLSD May 19, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Forget Ronald McDonald. Get rid of the Burger King. That guy totally creeps me out.

  13. SeanA May 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I think all of these people have some serious mental issues that go beyond a dumb clown.

  14. Blackwater II May 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Yea, right after Obama!

  15. hoops May 19, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    @ssholes, All!

  16. jc May 19, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    This is rather silly, the correct way is to create a Parental Accountability office and have them enforce proper parental behavior.
    Kids eating junk food and growing obese is primarily on the shoulders of their parents, not a fast food corporation.

  17. RegularGuy May 19, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    It was also announced today that Ronald McDonald, Poppin’ Fresh (the Pillsbury Doughboy), the Trix Rabbit and the Kool-Aid pitcher have formed a Support Group called, “Not My Fault.”

  18. nrb May 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Look! He has a rainbow flag wig! He’s a homosexual recruiting tool.

  19. Jumpy May 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Bring back Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips and then I’ll be happy.
    Golden Bear Golden Bear, it’s a honey of a place where kids have fun!

  20. Frank Watson May 19, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Oh, go away.

  21. Dan M May 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Rather than wasting time with these protests why don’t they initiate a program teaching children how to make their own educated and informed decisions when it comes to food and diet?
    No one food is bad for you in moderation; it’s okay to splurge every now and then. But when the exception becomes the rule you run into problems. I love McDonald’s on occasion, but who doesn’t?

  22. Jimbo May 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Is Al Gore = Ronald McDonald Clown? If so, retire by all means. Otherwise, R. McDonald is just another marketing tool. Who the F cares.

  23. JOHN C May 19, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    These groups need a punch in the gut from the Hamburglar!
    How can Mayor MCCheese let them protest like that!

  24. Nancy May 19, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    It’s about time McDonald’s retired Ronald. It just doesn’t make any sense for them (and all of these other creepy, cartoon characters) to be inundating kids. Sure, parents need to take responsibility. But give me a break, do we really need junk food corporations bombarding children with marketing. McDonald’s could at least be decent about selling fatty food and market to the parents who ultimately should be making the decisions about what kids eat.

  25. Bill May 19, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Wow, there are more clowns on this blog then there were in the streets of Chicago today. All most here can muster is slander of an effort to call out one of the leading contributors to childhood illness. Where are the solutions to one in three kids being overweight or obese? Parental Accountability Officer? Oh please. Do you think parents are getting any less responsible now that they are being increasingly armed with better information on nutrition and exercise? That’s not what the studies say. So if parents are increasingly informed and responsible then why are kids still getting sick at record rates? Answer me that. Wouldn’t want to call out the billions spent in predatory marketing to kids. No. Wouldn’t want to go there. Couldn’t be Big Food’s manipulation of health and nutrition policy. No, that’s too much to think about for some of the insensitive homophobic clowns leaving comments here! Retire Ronald. It can only help.

  26. Maxx May 19, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Who will be left to kill the “Burger King”?? Now that is one FREAKY …….. Mascot??? Whatever he scares the &*7(%$& out of me & everyone I know.

  27. Bob-o the clown May 19, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    the world has gone nuts, what happened to survival of the fittest. if people and their children want to be stupid, let them, eventually the fittest will survive

  28. Sherlock May 19, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Clearly a big issue for folks here. I say Retire Ronald! We don’t need MORE pressure on kids to each horrible food. Why not give the parents a break?

  29. Pete May 19, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Hey Sherlock. Why not just take the kids away from the poor tired parents

  30. AT lover May 19, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    They have an Author Treachers Fish n Chips in the Atlanta airport– no S(h)it!

  31. Lily May 20, 2010 at 8:51 a.m.

    I find it funny people get so defensive when it comes to retiring Ronald McDonald. He is not an actual human being. He is a marketing tool to hook kids on unhealthy products. The idea that Ronald is in schools, hospitals and playgrounds to “deliver messages to families on many important subjects such as safety, literacy, and the importance of physical activity and making balanced food choices” is laughable. He is there to sell unhealthy burgers and greasy fries.

  32. mark May 20, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Once a hero, Ronald has now lived long enough to see himself cast as the villian.

  33. tom May 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    i think that they should keep Ronald because if the make him retire there will be no competition for the king(bk king) and any way hes bin around for over 50 frekin years as a trademark of Mcd’s many people love him many people are scared of him(i was scared of him in the cartoon)

  34. Tired Parent May 20, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    To say that it is Ronald’s fault that the US is #1 in childhood obesity is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a while. On a never ending loop of blame…government and parents. This ranks right up there with Disney movies being devil based. It takes a village to raise a kid these days but the parents have the ultimate choice. My kids don’t force me to take them to McD’s. I take them because I want to. My kids watch on tv what I allow them to see. When I was a kid you didn’t have options like they do today. Instead of the fries you get apples. Instead of the pop or juice you get milk. But you know what…my kids don’t make the choices…I DO! Retiring Ronald is not going to keep people from eating there. Stop blaming the companies for the choices you make. The options are there. It’s your decision what you eat. Ronald isn’t forcing it down your throat. I for one will continue to take my children to McD’s but I will also continue to take them outside to play, make sure they continue PE in schools, and continue to be their voice reason. I say leave Ronald alone. He hasn’t done anything wrong!

  35. Michael May 21, 2010 at 12:03 a.m.

    Bill I must say that I am seriously amused by your comments here. What ever happened to parents taking resposibility for their children? I was taught to believe that it is the responsibility of the parents to teach their kids things like good eating habits. Now, watch Dog groups like this one want to pass the buck and say that it is all the fault of Ronald McDonald, The Burger King, and the Trix Rabbit that the kids in this country are overweight. I am sorry, but if they really want to point the blame at someone they really need to take a long look in the mirror. Ronald McDonald did not make their kids fat. The parents taking their kids to McDonald’s to get a Happy Meal because they are unable to say the simple word no is why their children are fat.
    Stop passing the blame on someone else and shoulder some of it yourself. If Ronald McDonald gets retired tomorrow parents are STILL going to buy their children Happy Meals. Anyone who thinks otherwise is seriously uninformed.

  36. Jessica May 21, 2010 at 5:31 a.m.

    Ronald McDonal isn’t the one that is promoting bad eating choices. Who are the people responsible for the food children eat? Who takes these children to McDonald? The PARENTS!!! It is patheitc how society is blaming everyone but themselves for all of the over weight children in the world. If parents would learn how to tell their children “NO” for once and not give in to every little request becuase theyr’e afraid of their child not liking them or they don’t want to be the bad guy. Well here is a news flash for the lazy parenting generation in America it is your responsibility to make sure that your child is eating healthy not your childs. Your child is eating unhealthily because you have not taught him or her how to make a healthy eating choice. SO back off of everyone els and take a look at what you buy at the grocery store or how many times you went out to eat because you were either to tired to make dinner or you just couldn’t stand your child’s screaming anymore. It is ok for your child to get their way all the time. It’s how they learn. It isn’t going to kill them.

  37. Butch May 21, 2010 at 8:18 a.m.

    These people makeing me sick maybe they should move to Iraq and see what happens when they pull there crap in another country. These people are so insecure with there own lives they want to wreck other lifes maybe they should just be sent over niagra falls in a garbage can.

  38. Michelle Jones May 21, 2010 at 8:20 a.m.

    This group needs to put their efforts into something proactive for children and obesity issues. Fighting the Clown is not going to stop people from choosing McDonalds. Why not offer a place for local kids to run and play and educate good nutrition instead of fighting a long standing mascot that has not changed. People have changed! Lets face it folks a clown is not the reason for obese children…the parents are…the economy is…it is cheaper to fill bellies with a dollar menu than fruits, veggies and healthy choices!

  39. Juan May 21, 2010 at 8:49 a.m.

    I agree with most of the commets I see, save one! I am now 32 and grew up eating McDonald’s food. Today I am overweight and I have no one to blame, but myself. Ronald doesn’t sit there and shove fries and a quarter pounders down my throat.
    The true crime and the blame should then rest on society and our evolution. We have gone from an active, physical society to a sedentary people almost overnight. In less than 50 years we have seen a transformation from walking cities to car bound societies, and over the last 100 years we have moved away from agriculture and other physical labor.
    We don’t need to blame “Ronald” for all of our poor choices and societal woes. It is our own individual responsibility to make good choices and as such we should stop looking for someone else to blame.
    Keep reporting the nutritional value in foods and make us more aware, but don’t try to restrict our freedom of choice, it is ultimately personal responsibility that has to come ahead.

  40. samantha May 21, 2010 at 9:35 a.m.

    this is such a joke.. first it was the smokers and now its Mcdonalds whatever happenec to a free country that does involve persnal choice and the right to choose!!!

  41. Andrea May 21, 2010 at 10:36 a.m.

    parents are responsiable for how there kids eat not Mc Donalds. these people need to get a life and realize who realy is responsiable for children being over weight

  42. Sox Fan May 21, 2010 at 10:56 a.m.

    I get hungry when I see the Golden Arches. When I see Ronald McDonald, I think of the Ronald McDonald House charities and all the support they give to families of children with cancer. Not to mention all the money they put towards cancer research.
    When was the last time you even saw Ronald in a commercial or billboard for food?
    Usually the only time kids even see an image of Ronald is after they have already entered a McDonalds…so what brought them in in the first place? My guess would be whoever drove them there….

  43. fix May 21, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Stay out of our personal business! Ronald McDonald has done a lot of good over the years. My mother raised 6 children as a single parent. Her no meant no! None of us were overweight! Parents just don’t want to parent any more. If it is taking a village to raise children, than there are a lot of village idiots around these days!!
    Notice that it was a group of about TWENTY protesters. Again the “small” telling the “large” how to live. What has happened to freedom of choice? I guess we will soon have the freedom to choose what the government TELLS us to choose.
    For ever more . . . .

  44. Brian May 21, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    My wife gives in to the kids after the begging doesn’t stop. I just pull the car over and beat their ***** and the next time I say no, they know I mean it.

  45. Michael E Hall May 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    One word – personal responsibility – OK that is two words but it is something that we need to bring back. I am tired of the government and special interest groups trying to make my choices for me. Whatever happened to It’s a Free Country. If we give in to these idiots we won’t have any freedoms left. As a parent my daughter played sports and got fresh fruit and low fat snacks in her Easter basket. We took her out for fast food as a treat occasionally. Fast food in moderation is harmless and it is up to the parents to control the frequency of it’s consumption.