Ronald McDonald Refuses to Retire

He may be the most famous company mascot in the world, but some argue that after 50 years on the job, Ronald McDonald is no longer fit to serve in his role.

During the past few months, Corporate Accountability International, a watchdog group made up of parents and health care workers, has criticized the company’s clown for promoting an unhealthy lifestyle to consumers and especially kids, “fueling childhood obesity.”

Yesterday, however, McDonald’s (Stock Quote: MCD) announced that it has no intention to let Ronald McDonald go anytime soon. “He is a force for good,” said Jim Skinner, McDonald’s Chief Executive, according to the Chicago Tribune. “He does not hawk food.” Skinner argued that the mascot is an important tool for promoting the company’s various charitable endeavors. That may be true, but it seems like a big stretch to claim the mascot is not also used to market food to children. (And by the way, there are worse products marketed to children than fast food.)

If and when the company does decide to retire Ronald McDonald, I have a couple suggestions for replacement mascots. If the main concern is that they should not be advertising unhealthy products to children, then perhaps they should introduce a new character, Broccoli Robert, an 85-year-old toothless man who preaches the merits of eating mashed broccoli with every meal (or as every meal) while talking about how much McNuggets cost back when he was a kid. That’ll teach those children.

Alternatively, since McDonald’s is investing billions to make their restaurants more upscale, perhaps they should adopt a snooty mime as their mascot. After all, mimes are considered by some to be a classier version of clowns.

More importantly, the prospect of Ronald McDonald retiring raises the all important question of who would take his place as the most well known mascot in the world. In general, I'd have to say Mickey Mouse, but if we're just talking about the fast food industry, the answer would probably be the King at Burger King. Can McDonald's really afford to lose out to Burger King?

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