An Open Letter to the People Who Hate Ronald McDonald
First, congratulations on the awesome name for your organization. I think you might have just created a new show for CBS. 'CAI: Boston.' From the creators of CSI. A team of social do-gooders investigate corporations and try to stop evil advertising mascots from taking over the world. New this fall!
I picture Tim Daly and Jennifer Garner in the roles (if they're not available, maybe Dean Cain and Katee Sackhoff?).
I have to tell you though, I'm not at all happy about your attempt to get McDonald's to drop Ronald McDonald from their TV commercials and other ads.
You say that... "For 50 years, Ronald McDonald has hooked kids on unhealthy food." Actually, I would argue that it's parents who have hooked their kids on unhealthy food. After all, the only kids who are going to be enchanted or influenced by a clown with red hair and Batman villain-ish clothing are kids that can't buy the food themselves. Anyone who can go up to the counter at McDonald's and actually order the food are 1.) older, and 2.) don't care about Ronald McDonald at all. Or are you saying that parents are influenced by the clown?
I grew up on McDonald's food. Back when I was a kid (say, from 1969 to 1976), I only had one McDonald's near me, and even that was 20 or 30 miles away. I remember it was actually a special trip to go to McDonald's, a place my mom or sister would take me to after we did our shopping at the mall (this was back before there was a McDonald's in my hometown). But I can't remember ever being influenced by the guy. I mean, he's a clown. I've always been freaked out by clowns. The weird clothing, the fake smile. I will admit that I did like the Hamburgler and Grimace.
I understand that you also helped get rid of Joe Camel from Camel cigarette advertising. While I don't think kids were influenced by Joe either (there seems to be this weird assumption that adults don't like cartoon characters and mascots), I understand why you'd want to attack cigarettes. But food isn't cigarettes. We don't need cigarettes, but we do need food, and even the worst food for you (cheeseburgers, milkshakes, french fries, fried Ding Dongs, ice cream covered gravy, chocolate covered potato chips, most of the places Guy Fieri visits on 'Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives') can be fine in moderation.
Hey, I'll admit that this commercial is pretty scary...
...but we've moved beyond a Willard Scott Ronald having a food tray as a hat and the Ronald that we've grown to love over the past several decades isn't so weird anymore. And I have to wonder what you think is going to happen if you do succeed in getting McDonald's to drop Ronald. Suddenly parents are going to have this discussion?
Dad: "Hey, did you hear that McDonald's no longer has Ronald McDonald as their mascot?"
Mom: "Really? Hey kids, let's go get some salad!"
I'm probably a little overweight now, but I haven't been to a McDonald's more than once in the past ten years. Have you seen some of the people who eat at McDonald's all the time? Have you ever seen 'The Biggest Loser?' Have you ever walked the streets and seen people who... well, let's just say they should be wearing tank tops and Spandex?
Exactly. If you get rid of Ronald McDonald, people will still go to McDonald's and order from Papa John's and Domino's, and they'll give it to their kids, too. Does the guy who owns Papa John's have to stop doing commercials? Do we have to get kids to stop playing with dominoes because it might make them think of Domino's? Does Burger King have to get rid of the King, too? (Actually, the answer to that last one is yes, but for completely different reasons.) Why pick on Ronald, someone who -- as far as I can tell -- doesn't even seem to be a major part of their ads anymore?
I think you should devote more of your time and energy to getting McDonald's to get rid of their awful "I'm Lovin' It" slogan. Now that's a cause I can get behind.