(image: Scott Olson/Getty Images, via NPR)
Consumer advocacy group Corporate Accountability International is calling on McDonald’s to retire Ronald McDonald. In an open letter to McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner, the non-profit states:
As health professionals engaged directly in the largest preventable health crisis facing this country, we ask that you stop marketing junk food to children.
The rise of health conditions like diabetes and heart disease mirrors the growth of your business – growth driven in large part by children’s marketing. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics deems such marketing “inherently deceptive to children under 8,” you continue to use it as a vehicle to grow your enterprise.
As one marketing expert puts it, “Ronald captures kids’ attention better than anyone else can.” You use Ronald McDonald and other promotions to appeal to kids in environments that informed parents and health professionals can’t constantly monitor – from schools to libraries to the internet. Today, your icon is as recognized as Santa Claus, and the McDonald’s model of marketing is used by a range of abusive industries. read more…
What you need to know:
RM (Ronald McDonald) was absent from commercials and ads for a few years. But then last month, his royal clown-ness was reinstated by the fast food empire. While McDonald’s is certainly not the only reason for childhood obesity, as the market leader it should serve as a positive role model for the industry, instead of blaming everybody else.
Targeting impressionable kids with Happy Meals and clowns is a below the belt strategy that pits parents against their kids. That’s what many companies have been doing for decades, despite industry formulated “guidelines” as to what’s permissable and what’s not.
There will be readers that comment “parents need to put a firm foot down and say NO to their kids.” It’s easier said than done for most families. Your kids don’t live in a vacuum. They are influenced by many external forces such as friends, relatives, internet, school, tv, etc…
Reducing the pressure from these external forces can make our lives as parents easier. But don’t count on that happening any time soon.