By David Or on Food.change.org
In a poll conducted for the Value [The] Meal campaign, it was found that two out of three Americans hold a favorable view of Ronald McDonald (that's the work of fifty years of branding and over a billion dollars in advertising each year in the U.S. alone).
Ronald McDonald has had a long career of convincing kids to eat unhealthy food. Even kids who've never eaten a McNugget in their life are familiar with the clown. But a new campaign by Corporate Accountability International is calling on McDonald's to send Ronald into retirement.
Childhood obesity is now recognized as a significant and serious problem. Marian Wright Edelman's recent column highlights many of the pressing issues and some of the solutions. But it's not all about personal responsibility. Corporations need to do their part, and that starts with eliminating advertising explicitly directed at kids.
In a poll conducted for the Value [The] Meal campaign, it was found that two out of three Americans hold a favorable view of Ronald McDonald (that's the work of fifty years of branding and over a billion dollars in advertising each year in the U.S. alone). But roughly half of people support retiring the clown and "favor stopping corporations from using cartoons and other children's characters to sell harmful products to children."
This seems like a no-brainer. I can handle the counter-argument that people should have the freedom to choose what to eat (that's a whole different story). But for children, that right should be reserved by their parents. And by directly marketing to children in places that children frequent, such as the Internet, schools, libraries, and kid's hospitals, corporations are usurping that right. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that "advertising directed toward children is inherently deceptive and exploits children under eight years of age."
Restricting the use of corporate mascots isn't unprecedented, either — remember the Marlboro Man, or Joe Camel?
While this is only a first step towards solving the problem of childhood obesity, it's a necessary first step. If you'd like to wish Ronald a speedy retirement and see an end to direct marketing to kids, sign the retirement card, and pass this along to others who would be interested.