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?


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

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

    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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