Is it time to kick Ronald McDonald to the curb?
Corporate Accountability International says it is. In a press release, Deborah Lapidus, senior organizer of the nonprofit group had this to say, “This clown is no friend to our children or their health. No icon has ever been more effective in hooking kids on a harmful product. Kids have become more obese and less healthy on his watch. He’s a deep-fried Joe Camel for the 21st Century. He deserves a break, and so do our kids.”
A national poll finds that close to half the public wants Ronald McDonald to retire. Close to 60 percent of Americans pin the blame for childhood obesity on the fast food industry.
Childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes have risen dramatically over the past 30 years. While the popular clown can’t shoulder the blame alone, Corporate Accountability International says that McDonald’s spends more than a billion dollars each year on marketing in the U.S., much of it aimed directly at children.
It was 1963 when Ronald McDonald made his corporate debut, appealing to very young children and building brand loyalty that could last a lifetime. Things were different back then; fast food was not something to be indulged in every day, but an occasional “treat.”
We’ve come a long way since the sixties. Fast food restaurants crowd the landscape, alluring young customers with high calorie foods that have little nutritional value. Fast food has infiltrated the daily diet of many children, sometimes served multiple times a day, and is clearly a major contributor to the problem of childhood obesity and its related health problems. I dare say that parents must shoulder a share of the responsibility as well.
In his favor, the cheerful clown also lends his name to Ronald McDonald House Charities, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children. Ronald McDonald houses are located around the world and offer families a place to stay when children are undergoing hospital treatment.
So the question is, has Ronald McDonald lived beyond his prime? Would his retirement have a meaningful effect on childhood obesity? Is it time to hand Ronald his gold watch?
I believe the problem is larger and more complicated than that. Ronald McDonald… junk food pusher or just a convenient fall guy?
I’m looking forward to the poll results on this one!