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“Ronald’s not a bad guy”…

23 May

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson responded to criticism that the fast-food giant’s advertising directly targets children with perhaps the creepiest statement possible.

“We are not the cause of obesity. Ronald is not a bad guy,” Mr. Thompson said Thursday. “He’s about fun. He’s a clown. I’d urge you all to let your kids have fun, too.”

I’d question equating eating at a fast-food restaurant to “having fun.” And isn’t he basically promoting the marketing strategy that presents McDonald’s as a sort of mini-Disney World with cuddly mascots and good times until the inevitable negative consequences? Actually, it sounds a lot like Pleasure Island from Pinocchio.

Mr. Thompson has been trying to revive sales at the fast-food chain, which recently reported its fourth monthly global same-store sales decline since October, when sales at restaurants open at least 13 months fell for the first time in nine years.

Don Thompson is McDonald’s first black CEO — although he never refers to the chain as “Mickey D’s.” Anyway, if he can’t turn things around quickly, I hear Mitt Romney is interested in replacing him.

Mr. Thompson told shareholders on Thursday that the company is seeking to add more healthful items to the menu. The chain has added fat-free milk and apple slices to kids’ meals, recently introduced breakfast sandwiches made with egg whites and, in some markets outside the U.S., is selling skewers of kiwis and pineapples.

“We would like to sell more fruits and veggies,” he said.

When a restaurant uses the term “veggies,” all you should expect are oddly textured iceberg lettuce and those diced tomato chunks that are the same red as a Jersey girl’s tan.

I also can’t believe people still fall for the egg white scam. Most of the nutrients in an egg comes from the yolk, and eaten in moderation (about two a day), the cholesterol level is nowhere near as problematic as the oil-drenched hash browns, the sodium-stuffed sausage, or even the empty calories from the bread that accompany the breakfast sandwich.

I do admire the nine-year-old girl who asked Thompson to stop “tricking kids into eating your food.”

Still, as odious as the kid-centric ads are — especially the one in which Ronald appears to abduct a small child, the commercials that try to present McDonald’s food as part of a “hip” and “active” lifestyle are arguably just as appalling. They can’t even cast just one person who looks as if they might each this stuff regularly rather than size zero models.

 
 

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3 responses to ““Ronald’s not a bad guy”…

  1. Mary Miraglia

    May 23, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Oh, lighten up. Eating at a fast-food restaurant IS fun for kids, just not every day. And not even three or four times a week.

    McDonald’s was still new when I was a teenager, I think the burgers cost about 12 cents. They still had the signs that said “over a million sold!” “over two million sold!” It was new, it was affordable, and it was an adventure. I still remember driving from the funeral home when one of my great-grandparents died, in a Fiat station wagon that had been shipped here specially by someone and then sold to my mother — 4 speeds on the column — with all my siblings and several cousins and second cousins on board. I was 17 and in charge, we drove to McDonald’s and then to the farm while the adults stayed behind. Fed everyone for less than $20. Probably less than $15.

    It was hilarious, kids’ heads everywhere, and people looking at me driving down Highway 31, 17 years old, 90 lbs. — like I was the white trash of the county.

    I haven’t been in a McDonald’s to eat in close to 30 years, the smell alone gives me indigestion. But really, it’s not the fast food restaurant’s fault. It is parents and families who think kids can eat out several times a week, and this is an acceptable eating habit. It is not. Feed your kids, people — for god’s sake. If you are cooking them good meals the majority of the time, fast food on occasion will not hurt them.

     
    • Stephen Robinson

      May 23, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      Also, wasn’t it still real food back then? I do miss the days of the short-order cooks at diners (some of whom were ex-cons, as that was a skill you could learn in prison).

      The cheapness now does encourage some people to eat there far more often than they should. When I was a kid, you could get a cheeseburger for each “A” on your final report card. I had to portion out my six. I think it was two a day. I also recall when I first moved to NYC and the Super Sized fries were $2, so that would be my dinner, along with a slice from Ray’s across the street. God, fortunately my 20s metabolism allowed for me to live on my diet back before I discovered vegetables.

       
      • Mary Miraglia

        May 23, 2013 at 9:54 pm

        I think you’re right. Not exactly “real food,” but better than they serve now. I don’t have to go there, they have White Castle in Hackensack.

         

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