April 23rd, 2012
Is Ronald McDonald the New Joe Camel?
By Maureen Morrison
Is Ronald McDonald the new Joe Camel?
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.