The Advertising Century

Ronald McDonald

Published on .

PRODUCT: McDonald's restaurants
CREATOR: McDonald's franchisee Oscar Goldstein and his local ad agency

McDonald's Corp.advertising executive Roy Bergold can testify to the reach and recognition of Ronald McDonald. But even he couldn't believe what he witnessed one day in Milwaukee.

"Ronald was visiting sick children and he came upon a youngster in a coma," recalls Mr. Bergold. "I watched as the child's eyes began to flicker as Ronald stood by his side. The boy actually regained consciousness during his visit. There's no way to explain how it happened or why, but it was nothing short of amazing."

The clown's astounding powers have certainly worked their magic for McDonald's since he was introduced in 1963. The spokesfigure helped make McDonald's the most dominant fast-food chain on the planet. He also exemplifies one of the most important qualities of an effective commercial character: He doesn't sell for McDonald's, he is McDonald's.

Ronald was first introduced by McDonald's Washington franchisee Oscar Goldstein and a local ad agency in 1963 . Since then his name has been attached to a major charitable organization, the Ronald McDonald Foundation; he's starred in films; and he's even danced with the New York City Rockettes.

After a brief flirtation with acting adult in ads for McDonald's failed Arch Deluxe sandwich in the mid-1990s, Ronald returned to his roots and continues to be used mostly as a fast-food ambassador for kids. His face is recognized by nearly 96% of American children, and sells for the fast-food chain in more than 25 languages.

Most Popular