The activist group Corporate Accountability International staged a “Retirement Party” for Ronald McDonald outside a Chicago McDonalds this afternoon.
While onlookers screamed “Are you guys handing out McDonalds coupons?!” I spoke with CAI spokesperson Karla Pippa, about why the McDonalds mascot should tender his resignation/move to Boca.
Pippa, who regularly organizes protests such as today’s anti-saturated fat-hawking-clown rally, said the group hopes the campaign will help end McDonalds’ long history using Ronald McDonald to target children.
“For the last fifty years Ronald McDonald has been hooking our kids on unhealthy foods, spurring an epidemic of diet related disease, and we are calling on McDonald’s to retire this icon so that he can have a break, and we can have one too,” Pippa said.
She went on to elaborate, saying that as a clown, “Ronald McDonald obviously is not a marketing mechanism for parents or adults,” and that the character’s presence at sporting events, in schools, and online makes him highly visible to children around the country.
When asked to propose a more appropriate mascot for the hamburger chain, she replied “I think it would be best for them to have no mascot.” Pippa also said she had not yet had a chance to speak with McDonalds or its Chicago advertising agencies-like Leo Burnett and DDB-about alternative solutions for the company’s advertising.
Pippa did say, however, that McDonalds is aware of the CAI’s work, and she believes McDonalds’ move toward healthier food options can be attributed to public outcry and protests against its unhealthy products. Her ultimate hope is that “Ronald McDonald will go the way of Joe Camel.”
A press release handed out at the protest claims that a new CAI study finds “close to half of the public favors the clown’s retirement.” More information about the Retire Ronald campaign can be found at RetireRonald.org.