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MAY 16, 2012 3:03AM

Is Ronald McDonald the new Joe Camel?

Rate: 6 Flag

Ronald McDonald It strikes some as ridiculous to compare a "smooth character" who extols smoking with a floppy-shoed clown meant to represent the joy of mini hamburgers. But to many activists on the frontline of the war on obesity, the McDonald's mascot is pushing a product they claim is as dangerous as a cigarette.

It strikes others as ludicrous to suggest that fast-food marketing will go the way of tobacco advertising, which abdicated from TV in 1971 and is today a shadow of its former self. Then again, in the early 20th century it was unthinkable that cigarettes would one day be vilified—just as there was little inkling in 1979, when McDonald's rolled out the first Happy Meals, that more than 30 years later they would become a whipping boy for the national obesity epidemic.

This is why the fast-food industry seems to be taking proactive steps to raise its image by focusing on moderation, new kids' meals, exercise and health initiatives.

"To compare Ronald McDonald to Joe Camel is unfair and inaccurate," said Neil Golden, chief marketing officer at McDonald's USA. "Ronald McDonald represents the joy and fun of the McDonald's brand and brings happiness to people of all ages. He delivers messages to families on many subjects, such as safety, literacy, anti-bullying and the importance of physical activity." Indeed, Ronald's role nowadays is focused less on the food and more on the chain's charitable work.

But that the comparison has been made to Joe -- who was voluntarily dropped by the tobacco industry as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement -- raises an important question: Just how did fast food become the nutritional bad guy?

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At least Massachusetts has backed away from the bake sale ban.
Quickly fried and heavily processed:
Potatos,
Hamburger
Tomatos
Hashed Browns
Pork Suasage
Carbonated Sodas (syrup and sugar, add carbonated water, voila a Coke!)
Starched, bleached, then enriched white bread full of carbohydrates and almost no true nutritive value -- all because some screaming kid really just wants the damn toy.

I don't have any idea how they ended up being the Nutritional Death Squad poster boy. None at all.

--r--
only good thing at mcd's is watching a 300 plus-Jabba the hutt-order a huge sack of burgers and fries, and a DIET coke...
It's like anything. To much and you get fat. Even MD offers healthier alternatives, lower fat and less sugar. Fast food was only to be a treat not a way of life. It was the once a week, or special reward not three times a day. The persons to blame are the parents period. It is their job to control what their kids eat not the government, not corporations or schools.

Sugar and fat have been around for centuries the difference is now we eat it all the time instead of in moderation. As for fat people, I have seen just as many in Whole Foods as in McDonald's. Organic sugar and oil have the same amount of calories as Crisco.
Kevin,
What a wonderful concept - to replace the advocate to lung cancer with a clown! What a wonder WONDERFUL THOUGHT!... until comes the realization that we see the true context of the idea.

My disclaimer - there is a distinct possibility that my reply will be longer than your article - but not depreciate it's value in the least. What you have done is... opened a door.

Our society has fueled by brute [sales] force the idea that having the biggest, and the best at the cheapest cost is the best route to a [happy-] meal. It is unfortunately a sign of our love of money and lack thereof - for each other. The problem is so complex - where can you really with any accuracy point the finger?

I begin to wonder - thanks to you - is there even really enough quality food to give these people a quality meal? Is it necessary to do all of this processing in order to have it available? It must be a lack of quality food since the unprocessed types are so expensive. You know - the ones that are better for you?

Money drives the solutions AND problems of our world, and in some situations - medical for instance - it makes me sick to my stomach when someone says we don't have enough of it. What is a single human life worth anyways? Those lessons of old seem lost - "Quality, not quantity".

The need to make a profit and the keep the lights seems simple enough of a concept - but where do you cut the fat? Do you serve up crappy food? Do you steal your employees lives by paying them a wage that reflects little more than slavery without chains? Who is to blame? God is answered that question... "All of you."

Man has decided to play "GOD" and has come up with his own rulebook to the game - it's too complex and it doesn't fit and we are all suffering for it. Even free will is not free anymore - as man strives to protect us from ourselves.
I find all clowns have a creepy hidden agenda. Why else would kids be so scared of them? McDonalds seemed innocent at first, but if that's all a kid is eating, they might as well be eating lead paint.
This is a relatively small part of a much bigger problem; if more people take a look at the bigger problem then I suspect they’ll be more likely to recognize the damage being done. Those in the academic world that are involved in the debate are probably more familiar with the bigger problem which involves advertising to children starting at an early age before they learn how to think for themselves. In fact they are even saturating schools with advertising that amounts to propaganda and prevents children from learning how to think rationally about many issues. This has been written about in many books including one that I have reviewed, “Harvesting Minds” by Roy Fox about Channel One and how it damages the education system.

If it was in moderation and there were educational opportunities to teach people how advertising works it might be a different story; however what they’re doing now is indoctrination and it has a major impact on consumerism including obesity.

This seems like a trivial issue to many but the closer people look the more they may understand how much damage it does.
Eating at McDonalds in other countries, one will find that the nutrition and quality standards vary depending where you are. The United States has very low, very poor standards and allow a lot of garbage into the food system- not just McDonald's. Still, no longer content to serve McNuggets, they now serve McBites! More breading, more deep fry, less chicken per bite sized nibble (because a nugget is just too hard to manage for our greasy little fingers to get into our mouths fast enough). Chain restaurants like Chiles and Olive Garden aren't a whole lot better, the amount of salt, sugar and fat going into each very soft bite of fiberless food.
The American way is to make money, and that means increasing your spending. The only way to get you to eat more is to make it easier to consume faster (softer food, less fiber, eat with hands), so that you can eat more (but not higher quality), so that you can go back for seconds and thirds more quickly because the chemicals in there stimulate desire-salt, sugar, fat, umame. How is it that the vast majority of people don't read the words monosodium glutamate (MSG) on their can of soda or bag of chips? It's an addictive appetite stimulant, aka as "natural flavors".
Just like the drug companies, the food companies (owned by the same parent companies) want a life time of brand loyal customer relationships. We have to remember that the next time we try to pry a Diet Coke out of the cold dead hands of our anxiety ridden friends. Cigarette in a can.
@MTodd: they may have just as many calories, but you'll find they are less toxic overall, being processed much differently.
Also, think on this for a moment: those "fat people" as you call them may well be in the aisle sat Whole Foods in thatthey are doing their duty for better health. It takes time to get over one's bad habits and try for the better. It can also take patience to watch it occur. I used to weigh in at over 250 lbs. It is by shopping health food stores I learned to eat much better and take better care of myself.
A

Great post. Good question.s habits change, people are changed by them......
Poor women, I totally agree eating healthier food, non-processed food is much better than even low fat processed food. My point is we tend to blame MD or others when in truth they are meeting a market.

Organic food and prepared from scratch food take a lot of money and time. I am thankful I can afford it, but I would be the last one judge the needs of others. If you work a low paying job, or a couple of jobs with no time and have 100 bucks a week for a family of 4 you are not going to be shopping at Whole Foods or buying organic. Truth is sometimes you can feed your brood for less than fixing it at home, especially if you have no time. It is not healthy, it is not wholesome, but it may be the difference between eating or not eating.

Personally MD or fast food is the problem, but a symptom of a larger problem. We have grown into a nation that wants it now, wants it cheap and wants it to always be fun. But, most of all we do not want any consequences for our negative behavior. This thinking is not restricted to food.
Not a fan here of the MacShack since I've sworn off beef, but I will say this: today I was visiting a child care center. The children were being "rewarded" with Happy Meals for some good behavior (I think weeding a garden). I was astounded at the size of the Happy Meals since my day with a toddler. Fruit was included, a very small portion of fries, and the tiniest bun on that burger. And the drink was skim milk. I think this way for progress for Ronald that light cigarettes were for Joe Camel. Good post.
Very professionally written! Of course, it should be since it's plagiarized from Advertising Age last April.
It strikes some as ridiculous to compare a "smooth character" who extols smoking with a floppy-shoed clown meant to represent the joy of mini hamburgers. But to many activists on the frontline of the war on obesity, the McDonald's mascot is pushing a product they claim is as dangerous as a cigarette.

It strikes others as ludicrous to suggest that fast-food marketing will go the way of tobacco advertising, which abdicated from TV in 1971 and is today a shadow of its former self. Then again, in the early 20th century it was unthinkable that cigarettes would one day be vilified—just as there was little inkling in 1979, when McDonald's rolled out the first Happy Meals, that more than 30 years later they would become a whipping boy for the national obesity epidemic.

This is why the fast-food industry seems to be taking proactive steps to raise its image by focusing on moderation, new kids' meals, exercise and health initiatives.

"To compare Ronald McDonald to Joe Camel is unfair and inaccurate," said Neil Golden, chief marketing officer at McDonald's USA. "Ronald McDonald represents the joy and fun of the McDonald's brand and brings happiness to people of all ages. He delivers messages to families on many subjects, such as safety, literacy, anti-bullying and the importance of physical activity." Indeed, Ronald's role nowadays is focused less on the food and more on the chain's charitable work.

But that the comparison has been made to Joe -- who was voluntarily dropped by the tobacco industry as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement -- raises an important question: Just how did fast food become the nutritional bad guy?

Damn man, you missed a word in paragraph 3, I think! You might want to delete this post, poste haste! Thank's Harry, great eye~~

http://adage.com/article/news/ronald-mcdonald-joe-camel/234287/
Actually, Sagcap caught it in Safe Bet Amy's EP rant post, Scan. I was just shocked how blatant this is and how lazy Ed is.