Blogs & Comment

The tears of a fast-food clown

Along with violent cartoons, hand-me-down car seats and pellet guns, McDonald’s restaurants are something you should avoid exposing your kids to. Apart from the fattyfast-food and the cheap toys, McDonalds indoor playgrounds are isolating kids from fresh air, green grass and sunlight. If you notice chubby, blanched kids wondering around, bleating Supersize me, blame the Golden Arches.
Consumer advocates are taking note and are aiming their hostility on McDonalds iconic clown, Ronald McDonald. Corporate Accountability Internationalhas a campaign of getting corporations to promote healthy food (by their definition) and has called on Ronald to retire his greasepaint and his magic tricks. In fact, you can sign Ronalds retirement card here.
(Fortunately, from the life and times of Krusty the Clown, even the smallest children now know that TV icons are just shills for one thing or other, I would say.)
The consumer watchdog says that Ronald has become archaic. He is primarily a marketing tool directed at kids in order to get them to eat McDonalds food. This food is now regarded as unhealthy and Ronald, to some, can be seen in the same light as the unfortunate Joe Camel, the advertising mascot for Camel smokes produced by R.J. Reynolds. The CAI says that having a clown con kids into unhealthy lifestyle choices is no longer acceptable and is asking McDonalds to shoo Ronald out the door.
However, for people who can separate nutritional concerns from their investment needs, McDonalds stock isnt a couch potato. The company has been recognized as the most successful restaurant franchise in history.
Some of that success can be attributed to Ronald but management had a larger aim of making the restaurants family-friendly and keeping pace with changing clientele needs.
On one hand, this means consistent food, cleanliness, service and an unchanging restaurant environment. On the other, it means constantly altering its menu to serve changing consumer patterns.
Years ago, McDonalds was a burger and fries joint but it introduced saladsto satisfy a niche customer market. Its most recent foray outside of its traditional menu are Angus burgers, a premium line of hamburgers that were introduced across North America in the past two years. Introducing a top-end menu item during the U.S.s worst financial downturn may have seemed questionable to some, but McDonalds knows more than how to make special sauce.
Americans place the needs of their stomachs before most other concernsMcDonalds knows this and the Angus burger so far appears to have been a smart move. In any case, McDonalds can be seen as a recession-proof company; its fans walk through the doors to celebrate good times and walk in to save money during bad times.
No doubt marketers at McDonalds are considering if Ronald should be put out to pasture right now, and whether or not an alternative, healthier food iconlike Ernie Eggplantis appropriate.
In the meantime, lets pause and reflect on the tears of a fast-food clown. Whether or not you will miss him, everyone will wonder, how did Ronald stay so thin all these years?