This LetterToMcDonalds's ad will appear in newspapers and online on
It further requests McDonald's to include an "assessment of the
potential impacts of public concerns and evolving public policy on
the company's finances and operations," according to the McDonald's
proxy statement, which recommends shareholders vote against the
But CAI, which earlier called for the retirement of Ronald McDonald,
isn't stopping there. Using the shareholders' meeting and recent
FTC guidelines as backdrops, CAI
is also launching a campaign that includes full-page ads in
Wednesday's newspapers such as the Chicago Sun-Times, New York
Metro and the San Francisco Examiner, which will include an open
letter to McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner, signed by some 550 doctors
and health professionals, urging the company to "stop marketing
junk food to children."
The campaign will also include PR and events in various cities,
as well as a website, LetterToMcDonalds.org, which will house the
open letter starting Wednesday.
McDonald's declined to comment, but the board's statement in the
proxy said: "We acknowledge the importance of the subject of
children's health and nutrition. While these are global issues that
require actions that go well beyond what our company or any other
provider of prepared foods can take on its own, we are committed to
being part of the effort to address the issues underlying the
concerns. We offer a variety of food choices to our customers;
provide nutrition information about our menu items so that families
can make informed decisions; communicate with children in a
responsible manner through age appropriate marketing and
promotional activities; and encourage children and families to live
balanced, active lifestyles."
Patti Lynn, campaigns director at CAI, said that if the
resolution gets a 3% to 5% vote in favor, "we would consider that a
success. It's something that we expect to play out over time." She
said that McDonald's is the chosen target because it is the leader
in the market, and sets the standard for how other fast feeders
market to kids.
McDonald's is in the midst of rolling out about a half-dozen ads
by Publicis Groupe 's Leo Burnett with Ronald McDonald as the
centerpiece, encouraging kids to visit the Happy Meal website. When
asked whether she viewed the "Retire Ronald" campaign as a failure,
Ms. Lynn said that Retire Ronald has been "a success insomuch as it
has begun a critical discourse, emboldened the efforts of other
organizations who are concerned about predatory marketing, [and]
emboldened lawmakers to propose and secure new safeguards against
junk-food marketing to kids."
Ad Age in November reported that the Happy Meal is
estimated at about 10% of the company's U.S. business. McDonald's
devoted about $115.5 million on U.S. measured media in 2010 to the
Happy Meal, according to Kantar, out of a total of $887.8 million
in spending. In 2009, it spent $69.5 million on the Happy Meal out
of $873.3 million.
Even though Ronald McDonald is still around and the resolution
likely won't result in much, CAI -- which, according to its annual
report, is funded mostly by individual donors and grants -- does
have a track record. During the 1990s, when it was known as Infact,
it led the charge to ban Joe Camel from RJ Reynolds' ads, and after
President Bill Clinton and the American Medical Association
followed suit, the tobacco mascot was permanently retired.