Where Are You, Ronald McDonald?

4 Jan

Courtesy of Karl Johaentges

When was the last time you saw Ronald McDonald lurking on a bench? When was the last time you saw the borderline creepy clown on T.V.?

2011’s news discussed a mid-life crisis for the clown, a reality check for the over-the-hill mascot, whose looks aren’t clicking with kids. Born in 1963, “Ron the Don” seems a little dated. I’m not sure if the Pee-Wee Herman antics of The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald can help sell hamburgers to people who know they’re not healthy.

“We see this as a great opportunity to create a more meaningful relationship between Ronald and kids,” the corporation said of the mid-90s mini-series (Schlosser).

Ads from the 2000s takes the Don out of psychedelia and into sports & games.

The ubiquitous Playplace is absent from almost every new McDonald’s I’ve seen constructed in the last few years. The fast food empire that grew from self-service counters to an international franchise overnight seems to be secretly snubbing its target audience: kids.

With an average T.V. time of over 20 hours a week, children are a significant consumer of televised media (American Academy of Pediatrics). A shift away from reaching kids through familiar television characters marks a bold new direction for the company.

A visit to the website reveals hand-drawn graphics (with some parallels to Arcade Fire) and a strong focus on wholesome eating, proper sourcing, and starting off with breakfast.

Is the twilight of Ronald McDonald also marking a shift towards different eating? What kind of impact can this new direction have for other fast food media?

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One Response to “Where Are You, Ronald McDonald?”

  1. trwerner January 23, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    http://gawker.com/5878237/socal-city-to-mcdonalds-get-off-my-super-healthy-lawn?popular=true
    In their move to Loma Linda, a community of long-living healthy eaters, McDonald’s is again promoting its “healthier” directions.

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