Why did McDonald's Get Rid of Ronald McDonald?

What's not to like about a clown in a red and yellow suit? Everyone loves clowns, don't they? Especially one whose face you can't see because it's covered with white and red makeup. This one hangs around your kids, handing them junk food to eat. We're not talking about Pennywise from the Stephen King book IT. Nope, this guy was McDonald's marketing masterstroke. A man called Ronald McDonald. The mascot of the world's most popular fast-food chain.

The 1960s

Anyone who's watched The Founder will know that Ronald McDonald wasn't the man who came up the Speedee System. The revolutionary method of quick food production was the brainchild of Richard "Dick" and Maurice "Mac" McDonald. They ran the first store in California which they began to franchise across neighbouring states. They might have come up the idea of fast food, but they didn't envisage a crazy clown mascot. That was the work of Ray Croc, the man who put McDonald's on the map.


Ronald McDonald's supposed to represent wholesome fun for all the family. Creepy clowns don't do that anymore. Do you remember a few years back there was a creep clown phenomenon? Back in 2016, clown attracted a lot of bad press. People dressing up as clowns would chase motorists, lurk outside schools, and release creep videos of their exploits. It wasn't just Facebook and Twitter reporting on this. The New York Times also ran news stories on it. No wonder McDonald's felt the need to cut Ronald from their marketing campaigns.

Marketing to Kids

McDonald's have got into a lot of trouble for marketing to kids. They sell junk food and market it to our kids through Happy Meals and funny clowns. That was never going to last. There was going to come a time when customers would turn around and say that's not on. In America, McDonald's were told to focus their TV ads on the food rather than the free toy back in 2015 or face a ban on advertising during kids' TV. In the UK, advertising foods high in salt, sugar and fat to children has been banned since 2008. McDonald's had no choice but to cut back on the use of Ronald McDonald. His only purpose is to attract children to eat at McDonald's.

I'm Lovin' It

Do you remember the time when McDonald's reinvented itself with a jingle performed by Justin Timberlake? That was 2003. Since then, they've tried to sell themselves to adults. In 2012, McDonald's started to update all their restaurants to fit this new marketing push. The self-order kiosks and modern dining areas just wouldn't fit with a red-headed clown, so Ronald McDonald is the only one not lovin' it.

He Lives

He's not totally dead. He's still lurking around creepy clown style. He makes an appearance at least once a year. If you're in New York during late November (and there's no coronavirus lockdown on), you might catch a glimpse of the yellow-suited clown at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. McDonald's have no plans to kill him off totally. They just don't use him that much.

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