McDonald's CEO: Relax, Ronald's not bad

The company tries to tamp down criticism from activists who argue that the mascot promotes childhood obesity.

By Jonathan Berr May 23, 2013 5:41PM
File photo of Ronald McDonald at a parade in Canastota, N.Y. on June 12, 2011 (© Mike Groll/AP Photo)Speaking at his first shareholder meeting as CEO, McDonald's (MCD) chief Don Thompson rejected calls to retire Ronald McDonald as the chain's mascot. Activists have long worried that the red-haired clown encourages children to consume unhealthy food.

At the meeting, speakers from the Corporate Accountability Project accused the chain of contributing to the nation's soaring rates of childhood obesity by targeting children, particularly minorities. That notion may have struck a nerve with Thompson, who is African-American.
"Ronald is not a bad guy," he said, according to The Wall Street Journal. "He's about fun. He's a clown. I'd urge you all to let your kids have fun, too."

McDonald's has responded to the criticism of its marketing to children by shrinking the size of the french fries in its Happy Meals and adding apple slices to every serving. The chain has enlisted Ronald McDonald in its health kick, and the clown regularly encourages young McDonald's diners to eat right and exercise.  

The mascot is also the face of the company's charity, the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides housing to families of seriously ill children who need to travel away from home for medical treatment.

Ronald McDonald was first played on television by Willard Scott, who later gained fame as a personality on NBC's "Today" show, in 1963. The chain has used him less in recent years, preferring to tout its food directly to consumers, according to

--Jonathan Berr is long McDonald's. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr

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Tags: MCD
May 23, 2013 6:02PM
This may be a stretch, but I'm pretty sure the parents of obese children are to blame, not some guy in a clown suit.
May 23, 2013 8:17PM
They put the HUGE calories right on the menu.  You're eating fried meat, cheese, deep fried potatoes and washing it down with corn syrup in bubble water.  Take personal responsibility for your decisions.  Unless the Ham-Burglar runs into your house and starts shoving chicken nuggets down your throat. 
May 23, 2013 8:26PM
Kid says, "I want McDonald's!"

Parent replies, "No!."

Problem solved.

May 23, 2013 8:16PM
a clown makes kids get fat where in the world are we heading to most kids eat there because there mothers are to lazy to cook not because of a clown
May 23, 2013 8:34PM
Mc.Donalds was around when I was a kid, and childhood obesity wasn't even an issue.  Now they are the bad guy.  Need to look somewhere else.
May 23, 2013 8:22PM
no . 1  rule ,  always look for someone else to blame.
May 23, 2013 8:40PM
congratulations people, you have reached a new level of stupid
May 23, 2013 8:41PM
and the hamburglar makes ppl rob banks
May 23, 2013 8:25PM
McDonalds is always the target.
But they were the firs to put in low fat items over 25 years ago with the McLean Deluxe, They made it so kids can choose Milk or Juice in the Kids Meals first
They cut the size of the fries in half and added a bag of apple slices.

The real bad ones for Fat laden food is Carl Karcher (Carls Jr, Hardees, Jack in the Box, Rallys/Checkers).
McDonalds has salads, Grilled Chicken (First with that), Cut pout trans fats in Fries years ago, and has done their best with healthier foods, many of them flop…you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink.

But why target McDonalds?  Because they are the biggest and get these groups the headlines.
May 23, 2013 8:34PM
Hey don't blame the clown, maybe choose better food choices for your kids and they won't get fat. Maybe skip those 3-4-5 nights a week going through that drive through and getting that happy meal, and instead throw together a salad if you're that pressed for time. Start when kids are young, and I mean young, 1,2, 3 years old. Give your kids as many healthy food choices as you're able to and let them try new foods instead of just saying "No, you don't like that." I wish my parents had done that for me when I was younger.
May 23, 2013 8:57PM
No I don't buy this ****!!!! It's the damn parents fault for making fat kids!!!!!! And no fat jokes towards me please...I've dropped 175 lbs with more to go so your nasty comment will be deleted and you will be blocked!!   Ronald Mc D has NOTHING to do with childhood obeisity.
May 23, 2013 9:05PM
Stupid parents trying to place blame on someone else.
May 23, 2013 9:16PM
Why does McDonald's take so much of the blame for obesity in America? If you want to blame food for obese kids then what about Burger King, Jack in the Box, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver's etc. Not to forget Little Debbie snack cakes, soda, reese's cups, snicker bars, m&m's etc. Its the parents fault for buying that junk anyway. I don't see 3 yr olds driving their power wheels around the drive thru window.
May 23, 2013 8:37PM
The clown that came up with this idea isn't funny.
May 23, 2013 8:31PM
Oh come on... That's like saying Ronald is the cause of anorexia or some child abuse. Did the child abuse confuse you? Think of you kid talking about wanting McD's and you say no, then they say it again and you punch them in the face... Ronald caused child abuse.
I understand that activists are trying to get rid of child obesity but really!?! 
May 23, 2013 9:02PM
my kids ate food  at  home 5-6 days a week.  how can having a meal out 1-2 times a week  be the bad guy.  mc D's  was a treat,  a  reward,  apples, milk ,juice,  meat, potatoes and bread,salad's.
May 23, 2013 8:57PM
Seems to me that it isn't the clown's fault.  If parents would raise their children responsibly and teach them healthy eating habits along with some respect for others...many problems would be solved.  Maybe actually cooking a few meals at home would be a good idea too.
May 23, 2013 8:53PM
you know what! if people are stupid enough to accuse McDonalds' of promoting obesity then they don't have to buy mcdonalds'. Since when did someone have a gun held to their heads to buy fast food, bottom line if you don't like it don't buy it but keep your face and your opinions away from those who choose to buy fast food.
May 23, 2013 8:54PM

this encapsulates our country.  we are always looking to blame someone else for being fat or anything else.  we love to take people to court and blame big business for everything,  money money money.

Does anyone remember the guy who did that super size it McDonalds documentary. Remember the government official or watchdog bigshot that was interviewed and he said its McDonalds fault for childhood obesity .....he was about 250 or 300 lbs. himself.  Great spokes person.  The guy who actually ate the super sized meals from McDonalds 24/7 is a fool.  ANYONE who eats large quantities of the same thing 24/7 for 30 days is going to get sick.  What stops us from doing that?  Parents and intelligence.  I guess we should kill off Ronald, the Pillsbury dough boy, the hamburglar,  Taco bell dog,

Little Caesar, Bobs Big Boy, Jack in the Box, The Burger King and of course "Wendy",  Colonel Sanders.....get a life  or move out find better guardians.

May 23, 2013 9:08PM

For the love of Mike!  Or should I say Ronald?  Really?!?  If a child is fat, look to mom and dad and how they manage his/her daily nutrition. It's a no-brainer. Not withstanding a legitimate health issue.

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