CHICAGO — A coalition of health professionals, parents and corporate accountability advocates is calling for Ronald McDonald to retire as a spokesman for the nation’s largest restaurant chain, saying he has too much influence on kids.

Corporate Accountability International, which has waged campaigns against bottled water companies and tobacco companies, said it plans to present the results of a survey Wednesday showing that most Americans agree.

The group will release the results at a lunchtime “retirement party” for Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s Chief Happiness Officer, a 50-year veteran of the company, at the McDonald’s restaurant at Chicago Avenue and State Street in Chicago.

The organization – which was also behind the effort to retire Joe Camel from Camel cigarettes – is inviting Chicagoans to sign retirement cards for the mascot at the McDonald’s. The event is one of nearly two dozen similar ones to be held at McDonald’s restaurants and colleges across the country that day, according to Corporate Accountability International spokesman Nick Guroff.

A spokeswoman for McDonald’s said the company wasn’t invited to the party, but said Ronald’s role as a brand ambassador hasn’t changed. It’s to bring out the fun side of having meals with family and to promote an active lifestyle, she said.

“He is the heart and soul of Ronald McDonald House Charities, which lends a helping hand to families in their time of need,” McDonald’s told the Chicago Tribune in a written statement.

“Ronald also helps deliver messages to families on many important subjects such as safety, literacy, and the importance of physical activity and making balanced food choices,” the company said. “That’s what Ronald McDonald is all about.”

The group said the report features more than 200 photographs of “Ronald sightings” at schools and other child-focused events and aims to stop McDonald’s from gearing its advertising toward children in light of what they called a “fast-food-industry childhood obesity crisis.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.