Will Ronald McDonald Ever Retire?


For Mamavation.com, Leah Segedie made a comprehensive list of reasons why Ronald McDonald should retire. Like with all the advertising mascots, his mission is to infiltrate and undermine. Whether cartoons or disguised humans, the characters designed to appeal to children supplant the parents’ role as authority figures.

Traditionally, certain other people in the environment — grandparents, teachers, spiritual leaders, doctors, social workers — are allowed to exercise power over children. Parents have to adjust to being overruled about some things, some of the time. But when a kid pitches a tantrum for a Happy Meal because a big ugly clown put the idea in their head, parents are justifiably peeved.

And speaking of teachers, does Ronald belong in an elementary grade classroom? Segedie thinks not:

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.

Many critics have complained that Ronald is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, who should not be allowed to lead school assemblies that are ostensibly about exercise but are actually a vehicle for securing brand awareness and brand loyalty.

Casey Hinds wrote:

McDonald’s uses schools in order to reach students when their parents aren’t around. This has become such a contentious issue that some have even gone so far as to attend the shareholders’ meetings in order to make personal pleas for it to stop.

We have seen how the McTeacher’s Night program causes friction between parents and teachers who are desperate to raise funds for school uniforms and such, and parents and teachers who want nothing to do with it the scheme. They call it a “deal with the devil.”

When mothers showed up at the 2014 shareholders’ meeting to voice their objections, a McDonald’s spokesperson apparently denied that the clown was still visiting schools, while at the same time their web site continued to advertise that very service. A number of advocacy groups from various countries banded together and presented the company with a petition asking that Ronald not visit schools. But Mike Andres, the corporation’s USA president, holds that the mascot’s presence in educational institutions is a “heritage.”

Why this is so, so wrong

McDonald’s basic premise is that eating is done for fun. This philosophy rests on a false equivalency between straightforward consumption sessions, and other things that are actual activities. Through much of human history, delighting the taste buds was a pastime reserved for the ultra-wealthy.

While a prince enjoyed an amuse-bouche (a tiny snack whose name literally means “entertain the mouth”), the peasants on his estate struggled for enough calories to carry their bodies through another day of back-breaking labor. Very little of that limited sustenance was amusing in any way.

Now, recreational eating is no longer an aberrant hobby reserved for the decadent aristocracy. Even the poorest among us — especially the poorest — have the opportunity to destroy ourselves by eating pitifully inadequate excuses for food.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “10 Reasons to Retire Ronald McDonald,” Mamavation.com, 06/10/15
Source: “How McTeacher’s Nights and Coke Science Betray Us,” BeyondChron.org, 10/14/15
Photo credit: Greg Willis (gregw66) via Visualhunt/CC BY-SA

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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