Wednesday, October 17, 2012

If we target one, we must target all

Click to enlarge
Above is a picture from 1963 of Willard Scott as the first iteration of Ronald McDonald. I must say, that's one insane looking mascot. Interestingly, considering Ronald's prominence in McDonald's advertising, Ronald was not created by McDonald's marketing department. As explained by Active Rain:
From August 1959 to August 1962 Willard Scott portrayed Bozo the Clown on a local Washington DC area television station. When the TV station dropped the licensing rights contract with Larry Harmon and discontinued the Bozo character, Willard Scott wanted to keep the Bozo thing going. So, he created a spin-off version of the Bozo character, which became Ronald McDonald.

Willard Scott created the Ronald McDonald character for the two local businessmen who owned the DC area McDonald's drive-in restaurant franchise.

The McDonald's corporation liked the concept and eventually hired a different actor to portray the Ronald McDonald character in national commercials. Obviously, the character and costume evolved over time and continues to be a cornerstone of the McDonald's corporation marketing campaigns to this day.
So, Ronald bubbled up from the ranks. Of course these days the Food Police would be more than happy to legislate or regulate Ronald into oblivion from the top. As Elaine Fogel wrote:
Is junk-food marketing to kids fair? Should it be allowed? Is Ronald McDonald responsible for childhood obesity and its associated diseases?

Recently, more than 550 very credible health institutions and professionals challenged McDonald’s to stop marketing junk food to kids. Initiated by Corporate Accountability International, full-page ads appeared in several dailies across the country urging people and professionals to sign the open letter and share it with peers.

An American interagency government group has developed standards for marketing food to children to help food companies determine which foods should be marketed as a way to encourage a healthful diet and which foods shouldn’t be marketed to children.

Studies do demonstrate that reducing junk-food marketing to kids could help improve millions of children’s health. But, let’s be honest. Who is responsible here? Ronald, parents, educators, or all of the above?

Personally, I’d like nothing better than to see healthier kids in North America. As a former educator, I’ve seen how vulnerable many kids are to marketing in general. But, why are we penalizing one company? Sure, McDonald’s is the largest in its category, and Ronald McDonald is a widely-recognized figure, but if we target one, we must target all marketers of high-sugar cereals with premiums in the boxes, chocolate syrup that contains high fructose corn syrup, candy bars, sugary drinks, etc.
Well, why not? And if that doesn't work -- and we all know it won't be enough for the likes of Ms Fogel -- we can complete our descent into Puritanism by sticking people in stocks to publicly shame them. After all, it is for the kids.

Me... I would rather put up with so-so hamburgers, a slightly creepy clown and the occasional junior fatso than letting the helicopter moms of the world start managing my life.

Drop those fries and eat some broccoli or else!


OMMAG said...

I've always been offended by micky d's marketing.

I told my kids ... when they were kids ... that I'd rather not go there because of how they manipulate parents by selling they kids on the BS.

They never complained and when they started going out on their own never embraced the McDonalds experience.

ambisinistral said...

Gah... I just posted about you. Glad to see you're back.

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