Give Now  »

Indiana Public Media | WFIU - NPR | WTIU - PBS

Send In The Clown: Should Ronald McDonald Retire?

Just What the Doctor Ordered

It might be almost time for the clown to resign.

On May 18, more than 550 health professionals and organizations signed an ad that ran in six newspapers across the country.

The letter stated:

Ronald captures kids' attention better than anyone else can. You use Ronald McDonald and other promotions to appeal to kids in environments that informed parents and health professionals can't constantly monitor – from schools to libraries to the internet. Today, your icon is as recognized as Santa Claus, and the McDonald's model of marketing is used by a range of abusive industries.

The last paragraph of the letter urged the McDonald's corporation to change how they advertise to children by also removing toy giveaways from their kid's meals. This way, the health professionals hope children will be less drawn to those foods, which tend to be high in salt, fat, sugar, and calories.

McDonald's Response

McDonald's continues to stand by Ronald. Additionally, they say that they are devoted to children's health and nutrition.

"We are committed to responsible advertising and take our communications to children very seriously," McDonald's said in a statement. "Ronald is an ambassador for good and delivers important messages to kids on safety, literacy and balanced, active lifestyles."

McDonald's Under Fire

This is not the first time a campaign has been started against the clown.

Last year around this time, Corporate Accountability International (CAI), an organization that confronts instances of corporate abuse around the world, sent out press releases and advertisements to try to retire Ronald. They sited that Ronald McDonald and the McDonald's company are "predatory" marketers.

While that campaign didn't seem to go anywhere, moves to remove toy giveaways from kids' meals have been gaining traction across the country over the past year.

In November of last year, the city of San Francisco approved a ban on including toys with McDonald's meals that contain more than 600 calories and if more than 35% of the calories come from fat.

A similar ban is under consideration in New York City. "We are not trying to hurt anyone's bottom line," New York City Council Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie (D) said. "We are trying to help people's bottoms."

What do you think?

Childhood obesity has been a big issue across the country for many years. Will retiring Ronald McDonald help?

Read More:

  • Junk food foes to McDonald's: Retire Ronald! (CNN)
  • The Big Apple Wants to Ban Toys in Fast Food Meals (Earth Eats)
  • After 50 years, A Campaign to Retire Ronald McDonald (Earth Eats)

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Earth Eats

Harvest Public Media