May 19th 2011
FEAR of clowns is known as coulrophobia. Some health activists are so afraid of the impact that a certain red-haired clown has on children that they want him to retire. On May 18th several American newspapers carried ads paid for by Corporate Accountability International (a group that helped to kill cigarette Joe Camel) in support of a shareholder resolution at the annual meeting of McDonald’s the following day urging the fast-food chain to stop marketing burgers to children. The activists want an end to Happy Meals, and they want Ronald McDonald to hang up his outsized shoes.
McDonald’s says it has no intention of throwing the 48-year-old clown into the deep-fat fryer. He is a “force for good”, says the company, which started calling him a “balanced, active lifestyles ambassador” as long ago as 2004. Nowadays, when he appears in ads he is shown playing sports, with not a burger in sight. Ironically, this seems to have gone down badly with the public; the ads have reportedly tested poorly, with many viewers finding them “weird”.
Meanwhile, on May 17th, McDonald’s hosted a special ceremony in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, to celebrate a customer consuming his 25,000th Big Mac. Don Gorske, aged 57 and slim, claimed to have low cholesterol and recently to have been given a clean bill of health.