Thursday, April 01, 2010

Why it's Time to Retire Ronald McDonald - my media statement

Here is what I said at yesterday's press conference / retirement party for Ronald McDonald:

We know Ronald McDonald is everywhere, especially where ever kids are. Why target kids? For starters, children under age twelve command up to $50 billion in direct purchasing power, and influence $670 billion in family purchases.

And McDonald’s knows that vulnerable children are the perfect advertising audience, since they don’t even know they’re being marketed to. Children under the age of eight do not have the cognitive capacity to understand that Ronald is trying to sell them something; they just know they love the friendly clown.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that “advertising directed toward children is inherently deceptive and exploits children under eight years of age.”
The First Amendment, which marketers often try to hide behind, does not protect deceptive advertising, which means McDonald’s is on treacherous legal ground and it’s only a matter of time before the law catches up to Ronald.
McDonald’s knows that brand loyalties established in childhood last a lifetime. Get them while they are young, and you’ve got them hooked for life.
But children aren’t just little adults. Their minds are still forming, making them especially vulnerable to the manipulations of marketing, and of course, their growing bodies need optimum nutrition, not Happy Meals.

But what about the parents, I hear all too often. After all, kids don’t drive themselves to McDonald’s or purchase those Happy Meals themselves. Any parent can tell you how difficult it is, after a long day at work, to resist the pestering, sometimes daily, by their children to take them to McDonald’s, usually just because of the lure of the toys, and of course, the clown.

And what better way to bypass parents and market directly to children than through a clown – the icon of circuses and children’s parties.

But parents have a right to raise their children in a safe environment, without constantly worrying about predatory corporate marketing. And children have the right not to be preyed upon by a clown with a corporate agenda. That’s why McDonald’s should retire Ronald.

Please visit: Retire Ronald to support this important campaign. Thank you.

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