Ronald McDonald Replaced As McDonald’s Spokesclown

Ronald McDonald has been the face of McDonald’s restaurants since the 1960s, but according to a report in the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, the famous clown is being replaced – by a farmer.

This doesn’t appear to be an attempt to curb momentum from the popular television ad using real-life Ronald McDonalds from all over the country to promote Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu. Rather, replacing Ronald McDonald appears to be aimed at showcasing McDonald’s focus on offering healthier food options. McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants have received significant pressure in recent years, both from politicians and the market, to steer away from their traditional high fat, high calorie fare and offer customers healthy options.

The shift isn’t new. McDonald’s started offering salads in 1987, according to this McDonald’s timeline posted on Timetoast. McDonald’s has also made significant changes to their kids’ menus, offering smaller portions of french fries paired with apple slices along with the traditional cheeseburger (or Chicken McNuggets) and toy in their signature Happy Meals – a staple of the fast food giant’s since 1979.

According to the MarketWatch report, Ronald McDonald hasn’t been completely replaced. The famous clown still exists as a company symbol, particularly with their Ronald McDonald House charities. However, the company is refocusing its advertising to focus on the quality of meat and produce McDonald’s restaurants use in their products. You can see an example of the new advertising – including the farmer, named Dirk – here on the McDonald’s website.

Inasmuch as he has replaced Ronald McDonald, Farmer Dirk seems to have his focus set on showing off the high quality of lettuce McDonald’s uses for their salads – and presumably for their Big Macs and other sandwiches featuring lettuce. The McDonald’s website also features other agricultural suppliers in an attempt to improve on the notion that McDonald’s doesn’t serve anything except unhealthy, fat and calorie laden products.

The idea that Ronald McDonald is being replaced is bound to come as a shock to generations of customers who have grown up with the famous spokesclown’s commercials, toys and personal appearances, like this one. which also features the Hamburglar and the French Fry Guys:

What do you think? Should McDonald’s have replaced Ronald McDonald on their website? Will it help the fast food giant’s image now that Farmer Dirk and others like him have replaced Ronald McDonald on the company’s website and in many of their advertising promotions?

[Image via Shutterstock]