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“Ronald’s not a bad guy”…

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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