As a business, building your brand and consumer awareness is at the top of your to do list. But what do you do when the thing you are most recognized for is controversial among your audience?
That is the dilemma facing McDonalds. Right now there are some that think Ronald McDonald should hang up his red wig and floppy shoes. They feel Ronald is past his prime, he doesn’t fit the new image McDonald’s is trying to convey and he encourages kids to eat unhealthy.
Ronald has been with McDonald’s for 48 years. He started as a rather odd looking clown with a paper cup on his nose and for trivia fans; the first Ronald was Willard Scott. Since then his look has changed. His red wig is trimmed and his clothes aren’t as baggy, but overall he is still recognizable. In fact 99% of U.S. consumers know Ronald when they see him.
McDonald’s has been working hard to update its image from just a burger fast food chain. They are offering better coffee, smoothies and fresh fruit options with your meals. They understand that this is the direction their consumers are looking for and they want to keep pace.
The CEO, Jim Skinner feels that Ronald is a wonderful ambassador. He is in the community doing good work. His Ronald McDonald Houses help the families of sick children. Skinner doesn’t see a need to retire Ronald and wants him to continue to represent the company.
What do you think? Is Ronald a bad influence on children’s diets? Is he too old fashioned to represent the new and improved McDonald’s image?