Who doesn’t recognize Ronald McDonald? He’s every one’s favorite clown, an advertising figure used by the McDonald franchise, and is famous all over the world. McDonald’s most famous spokesperson (or spokes figure as someone once called him), Ronald has become a household name and has proven to be one of the franchises most popular form of advertising.
McDonald’s most popular brand ambassador made his debut in a television spot when Willard Scot “created” him in 1963. George Voorhis, an American performer, also claims to have co-created the character complete with its costume on request of the McDonald franchise. However, the franchise has not alluded to George Voorhis and has gone on record to thank Willard Scot for creating the character. Roy Burgold hired Aye Jay in 1965 to hire and arrange for performers to play Ronald at events. In 1966, the famous circus performer Coco the Clown was put to task to redo Ronald and he successfully created the trademark look that is used in advertising today. Ronald was once shown to live in a place called McDonald land with an assortment of other characters the franchise introduced in later years.
Ronald has been adapted and subtly changed in McDonald’s international advertising in order to appeal to the international market. In countries like Thailand and India, where people traditionally greet each other with palms pressed together, pointing upwards, Ronald’s statues placed at McDonald’s franchise venues have been shown with the same posture. But his most used pose is sitting on a bench in front of the franchises, and these statues are the ones most in use both domestically and internationally, in several countries like Pakistan, China and the UK etc. The clown’s color scheme have become popular, and the yellow outfit and- in particular- the red and white striped socks and shirt are easily recognizable. In fact, Ronald has become one of the few iconic characters that are easily recognizable all over the world- his few competitors include Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse. Ronald also appeared in a series of four graphic novels produced under license by Charlton Comics; several give away comic strips, and he was the star of a series of six video-taped animated features produced under license by the production company, “Klasky-Csupo”, which were released between 1998 and 2003. Sega also developed a video game based around the character, which was released in Japan in 1994. While he was once portrayed as living in McDonald-land, the Ronald of today is often portrayed as interacting with regular kids in their day to day routines.
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Corporate Accountability International called for the retirement of the character from McDonald’s advertising, in the year 2000, claiming that the use of the character resulted in misleading advertisements that were proving detrimental in the efforts to put a hold on obesity and encourage healthy eating- a suggestion that was repeated in 2011. It has also been suggested that Ronald’s appearances in McDonald’s advertising are not effective. The franchise’s CEO has gone on record refuting claims made and has stated that Ronald is an ambassador for good. The corporation announced shortly after that Ronald was here to stay.