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13th Apr 2024

Here’s why you never see Ronald McDonald any more

Ryan Price

If you’ve been wondering why you don’t see much of the iconic ‘fast food clown’ these days, we’ve got the answer.

For many of us, Ronald McDonald was synonymous with our favourite food as children.

The red-haired, smiley persona could always be seen on the Happy Meal box (if you could resist the urge to rip it open to get at the goodies inside), but in recent years, the iconic figure is rarely seen on McDonald’s branding and advertisements.

Left: McDonald's yellow 'M' sign, right: McDonald's Happy Meal
Getty / Instagram @McDonalds

To be specific, 2016 was the last time the company put the loveable figure at the forefront of their campaigns.

Considering Ronald was first introduced to customers back in 1963, it didn’t necessarily go unnoticed when he failed to appear for some time.

The hamburger-loving clown wasn’t the only fictional mascot adopted by the fast-food chain. He was often joined by a variety of characters including Mayor McCheese, the Hamburglar, Grimace, Birdie the Early Bird, and The Fry Kids.

Ronald McDonald’s fifty year rein as the face of McDonald’s came to a halt in late 2016, thanks to a bizarre and slightly terrifying craze that swept most of the US.

The ‘killer clown craze’ saw pranksters dressing up as clowns and terrifying the general public.

The trend quickly spread to the UK and the rest of the world, with authorities warning people to stop.

While it may have started as a harmless joke, some clowns began to brandish weapons and target children. Many linked the disturbing trend to the promotional campaign for the horror film IT, based on the book by Stephen King, which released in early 2017.

McDonalds released a statement at the time given the “current climate around clown sightings in communities,” stating they would work to be “thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events”.

In a statement on the McDonalds website now reads: “We’re afraid that Ronald McDonald no longer appears in McDonald’s UK advertising, but he is still very busy working for us.

“He often travels up and down the country to help promote some of our exciting new activities and visits our restaurants to make sure everyone is enjoying their meals.”

While Ronald McDonald continues to make public appearances at live events and on social media, he is no longer considered the face of the brand.

It’s not known yet whether or not the company plans on bringing the cheery clown back to the forefront one day, but one thing we can all agree on is that nobody wants to see the killer clown craze return.

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