Does retirement beckon for Ronald McDonald?
Zeitgeist has always been somewhat midly peturbed by Ronald McDonald, not exclusively due to the fact that no matter which McDonald’s in the world Zeitgeist chooses to frequent, Ronald is unfailingly always at the very same one. That and the fact that he seems to enjoy sitting by himself on benches, smiling to himself.
For many however, Ronald is an enduring mascot, a brand ambassador like no other. The man has presided over McDonald’s profligate – but morally questionable and nutritionally unhealthy – past since 1963, as well as its more lean, green present form. It still commands massive clout as far as promotions are concerned, particularly for film and TV.
Now though, Corporate Accountability International – whose previous targets include, Nestlé, GE and, fittingly, Target – has designed a website called Retire Ronald that states it is time for Mr. McDonald to join other brand mascots such as the Marlboro Man and Joe the Camel and stop recruiting children to unhealthy acts.
Comparing fast food to cigarettes might seem like a stretch, and Zeitgeist believes it is. To say that obesity rates have shot up in the US since the introduction of Mr. McDonald and directly connect the two in a latent manner – which the site does – is naiive and unrepresentative of fact. Creating a scapegoat will not solve the problem of overweight people in the US. It does also not account for the fact that people in that country are no longer getting fatter. “[S]cientific evidence continues to mount that McDonald’s marketing to kids is no less than commercial exploitation”; well, unfortunately, yes, marketing is exploitative. Zeitgeist would prefer to see as much effort put into policies and websites promoting healthy living, rather than focussing on the removal of an imaginary plenipotentiary, successful as it may be. AdAge currently features a poll on the matter.