We all know that red-haired clown. The one that has a painted on smile, yellow jumpsuit, and is pushing Happy Meals at our kids. Yes, I’m talking about the poster boy for marketing to children, Ronald McDonald.
My child has never eaten McDonald’s, but still sings along to song in the happy meal commercial about gray skies and bad days disappearing. He still recognizes McDonald’s when we drive past. He is only 3 years old, and he is acutely aware of the burger brand. That is a problem.
Marketing to children is a problem. It has been proven that children are particularly vulnerable to marketing and when it’s a brand that sells unhealthy food, such as McDonald’s, they are preying on that vulnerability. Although Ronald McDonald may not be the first attempt at marketing to children, he has certainly been the most successful since his introduction in 1963. Here a 10 reasons it’s time to end Ronald McDonald’s reign and retire the marketing mascot for good.
10 Reasons to Retire Ronald McDonald
- Ronald McDonald is the Joe Camel of fast food. Do you remember Joe Camel? It seemed like the cartoon camel was trying to market unhealthy behavior to children, so he was canned. That unhealthy behavior was smoking, which leads to cancer. We already know that eating fast food leads to diet-related disease such as obesity and type-2 diabetes.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics says marketing to children under 8 years old is inherently deceptive. The FTC actually says deceptive marketing is against the law, so shouldn’t deceptive marketing to children be against the law?
- Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity says that advertising fast food to children sets them up for unhealthy food preferences that can last a lifetime.
- Childhood obesity rates are the highest they have ever been in history, and this generation is expected to have a shorter lifespan than us, and has been dubbed generation RX. Why are we allowing the predators inside our schools to make matters even worse?
- Research does not support the illusion of parental choice. In other words, when the deck is stacked against you as a parent, that isn’t real choice. Fast food marketing expands through all aspects of a child’s life, so they are infiltrated with the brand’s message. Illustrated below are just how many ways McDonald’s is undermining your parental choice.
- McDonalds markets to children more than any other fast food brand. Parents need a level playing field when it comes to providing them with healthy food choices. Moms are the more ethical target audience. Why not market to moms instead?
- Clowns are just creepy.
- Modern progressive burger companies do NOT send clowns to schools. Under the guise of teaching children about how to stand up to bullies, McDonalds sends their clown in full attire to schools. This is NOT an educational workshop, this is marketing.
- Equating happiness with happy meals is a dangerous suggestion to children. Fast food, and the marketing behind it, can lead to a fast food addiction and possible eating disorders.
- Schools are for education, not marketing fast food.
If you agree it’s time to give Ronald the boot (or clown shoe) and send him on his way, then let your voice be heard. Tell McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook to retire Ronald by sending him a letter, here.
Let McDonald’s know you are tired of their deceptive marketing towards children, and it all starts with Ronald.