Watchdog group Corporate Accountability International may have missed an opportunity in their campaign to remove Ronald McDonald as the face of the ever-expanding, omnipresent fast-food chain. CAI is claiming, as written in Salon.com, that “Ronald’s the equivalent of a drug pusher for MSG-addicted kids.”
Peddling the fast food equivalent of smack to children would be bad enough, but let’s be honest, there’s a better reason: according to the research, Ronald is actually sort of repellant to kids. A study done by the marketing company Ace Metric received a “remarkable” amount of responses that found Ronald to be “creepy,” according to a VP with the company.
Rather obviously, McDonald’s disagrees.
“For everyone who feels that way, there are more who feel the opposite,” McD’s chief creative officer Marlena Peleo-Lazar said. “He is a force for good.”
That may be, but research by the University of Sheffield in England found that “clowns are universally disliked by children.”
“Some find them quite frightening and unknowable,” the study said, failing to use as source material the Seinfeld episode featuring Crazy Joe Davola dressed as Canio the clown in the opera Pagliacci (said clown’s dialog with Kramer in an alley, particularly dark) or that exceeding scary scene in Poltergeist when the clown attacks the little boy, only to have his own stuffings pulled out, or the cult movie classic “Killer Klowns From Outer Space.”
So CAI may be correct that the floppy-shoed clown should be retired, just not for the reasons the firm says.
Of course, Ronald McDonald isn’t the only clown in town. There’s that other guy at Burger King, the silent, always grinning “King.”