Ronald McDonald: From apathy to loathing


The Ronald McDonald makeover would likely have escaped the notice of this blog had it not been for the utterly inane press release that accompanied the restyling.

As a bit of background, even as a kid I saw Ronald McDonald as, at best, a neutral figure. A large red-haired, red-nosed clown in a weird yellow outfit with giant red shoes, he had little positive or negative impact on me or my desire to consume low-grade fast food.

Last week, however, McDonald’s announced that the character was being revamped, and in a most invidious manner.

It’s not irritating enough that the clown will be garbed in a new wardrobe which includes yellow cargo pants, a vest and a red-and-white striped rugby shirt, along with “whimsical new red blazer” and a special bowtie for special events, according to a company press release.

The mindless consumerism really kicks in when one reads the press release:

Ronald McDonald, who represents the magic and happiness of the McDonald’s brand, is setting out on a global mission to rally the public through inspiring events.

For the first time, Ronald McDonald will take an active role on McDonald’s social media channels around the world and engage consumers using the #RonaldMcDonald hashtag. As Ronald begins his journey, he seeks to deliver on the mission: ‘Fun makes great things happen’ – the idea that moments of fun and enjoyment bring out the simple pleasures in life and can lead to acts of goodness.

‘Ronald brings to life the fun of our brand by connecting with customers around the world, whether he’s promoting literacy or spreading cheer at a Ronald McDonald House,’ said Dean Barrett, Senior Vice President, Global Relationship Officer. ‘Customers today want to engage with brands in different ways and Ronald will continue to evolve to be modern and relevant.’

Questions which arise from this bit of tripe: What does “Fun makes great things happen” mean?

If fun really made great things happen, my fraternity would have come up with an inexpensive means to desalinize ocean water, invented cheap, safe, portable nuclear reactors that could have helped reduce dependence on fossil fuels and cured all forms of cancer, likely within a few weekends.

Judging from our collective grade-point averages, fun alone does not make great things happen.

Following that up, the idea “that moments of fun and enjoyment bring out the simple pleasures in life and can lead to acts of goodness,” is utter nonsense that even a child would have trouble stomaching. Too often, people seeking fun and enjoyment do so at the expense of others, which doesn’t exactly lead to acts of goodness. Often, in fact, it leads to acts of utter selfishness.

If you’re going to come up with hokey marketing pabulum to throw at the masses, try not to make it sound like something out of Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984.

And then there’s “Global Relationship Officer” Dean Barrett’s assertion that, “Customers today want to engage with brands in different ways …”

Umm, no, I don’t want to “engage” with brands in different ways. I want to “engage” in the McDonald’s brand in one single, solitary way. That way consists of me forking over currency in exchange for Grade C meat products, wilted lettuce, a slice of unripe tomato and room-temperature American cheese, all slapped between two flattened buns, served by a surly teenager who detests his assistant manager and/or thinks a music company is just moments away from walking in to offer them a recording deal.

If your want to remain “modern and relevant,” stop trying to be cutting edge and concentrate on making the food edible and the hired help civil.

If all that weren’t enough to turn my stomach, McDonald’s ends its press release with this absurd idiocy: “Ronald McDonald can’t wait to connect with people through social media. ‘Selfies …here I come! It’s a big world and now, wherever I go and whatever I do…I’m ready to show how fun can make great things happen,” said Ronald McDonald.’

I’m not a fickle consumer, but I certainly don’t believe in rewarding inanity. Any company that includes the sentence “Selfies … here I come!” in a press release is, in its own way, giving the middle finger to humanity.

Whoever wrote that line ought to be force-fed Big Macs until they slip into a sodium-induced coma, then slathered with gunk from a fast-food grease trap and dropped into a pit of ravenous badgers.

30 thoughts on “Ronald McDonald: From apathy to loathing

      • I’ve never understood McDonald’s marketing. Their ads lack creativity, and I’ve never seen one that contained any humor. I guess the price point and the fact that they are not the worst fast food in the biz allows for their popularity. I admit to enjoying a quarter pounder and fries once in a while. But that clown is way past his shelf life.

  1. i have always feared and dreaded anything connected with clowns. if they have a clown now in charge of making good happen, i am very, very frightened. i felt less threatened when he was still garbed in his yellow onesie. at least he couldn’t run as fast as in his capris.

    • very funny @ capris. I don’t fear them, ksbeth, but I loathe them. I don’t find them amusing or ironic. I find them deceitful and imagine they are harboring dirty secrets. I do know people who have a strong fear of them. One is a neighbor child who, as soon as he saw a clown quite a ways from us, hid behind me so the clown would not see him. Maybe it’s true that children and dogs can sense evil.

  2. I for one cannot wait to engage with Ronald McDonald. I am so happy that a fast food restaurant committed to the nourishment of it customers has cared enough to engage with us all and make us a part of the Magic that is McDonalds. I…oh hell I almost typed this with a straight face. haha. I loved this my friend. You remain my biggest source for news, current events and history. Thanks brother

  3. Sooo many bone-chilling questions! Firstly, exactly how whimsical does a blazer need be a compliment cargo pants?! Ewwww….

    Not to mention socially-networking with a fictitious clown! *shudder* As a general rule, don’t clowns scare the bejezus out of 85% of Americans? Whatever would possess McDonald’s to create a Twitter feed for him…and believe anyone would follow it? Ugh…ick…yuck.

    (Sorry, still hung up on the blazer/cargo pants thing.)

    Definitely going to tweet & FB this post!)

    • Yes, my kids (three young teens and a 10-year old) brought this to my attention yesterday and the universal reaction was “ick.” No one was interested in reading a clown’s tweets, they thought his new outfit – cargo pants and all – was ridiculous – and were unaware of the foolish blatherings of McDonald’s “Global Relationship Manager.”

      And, yes, a good percentage of Americans do not like clowns. This is not going to help with that phobia.

  4. I’ll engage with Ronald McDonald…with a claw hammer.
    I’ve only visited one of their branches…when the car broke down outside it and I had to wait for the tow vehicle.
    The bun tasted more like cardboard than the cup which claimed to contain coffee…
    But the French love it.

  5. Pingback: Ronald McDonald Loses His Head Over Some Disrespectful Teenagers, Here's Why - Perfect Your Lifestyle

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