The Clown Concept – Thanks, McDonalds

On my daily commute to college, I pass a medium sized McDonald’s by the dockside. It’s been there some time, so it’s quite synonymous of the dock itself.

Anyway, today there was flown a new promotional-type poster from the side of the building. Squinting my eyes as the bus sped by, I read, “drop by on the 30th October to meet Ronald McDonald – A spectacular evening of magic to be had!” with the brazen, gleaming face of the diabetes clown himself grinning deviously towards me.

Normally I would ignore such a campaign poster, clearly aimed for small kids to drag their tired and worn-out parents into a restaurant to waste their money with the promise of ‘something special’, but this one got to me enough to write this. Firstly, what can be a more spectacular spectacle than seeing the typical drunkard try and fail to order 400 chicken nuggets, or the crying toddler in the corner driving their parent into a homicidal rage. Secondly, what utter genius thought it would be great to hold a clown as a mascot for a predominately children’s restaurant?

I don’t know about you, but when I was younger, the sight of a clown was the ultimate ‘scary experience’ I could ever behold. The sinister, blood-red grin and the powder white face didn’t help situations, nor did the numerous stories of clown murderers, such as the gloriously frightening John Wayne Gacy, the evil being behind ‘Pogo the Clown’.

Horror movies have long latched onto the fear clowns evidently embed within us, such as the creepy ‘It’ by esteemed writer Stephen King. So this begs the question, “Why the clown?”

No matter the amount of digging I tediously performed online, there doesn’t seem to be a ‘why’, but only a ‘how’. Apparently, Willard Scott (the creator of Ronald McDonald – thank’s, Will.) suggested, “There was something about the combination of hamburgers and Bozo that was irresistible to kids…” (Bozo was his clown alter ego in the media).

Now I understand that cheery ol’ Ronald was created during the 60’s/70’s, wherein media wasn’t as influential to kids, but I don’t think that affects a child’s perception of fear. I knew of Ronald before I knew of the internet, so clearly there is no correlation there. I also knew that Ronald was a scary bugger that I was prepared to avoid for a lifetime. Obviously I speak for myself, but I can’t be the only one who feels uneasy around a clown. As seen with the case of John Gacy, the ‘happy, cheerful’ clown could be a complete monster underneath.

McDonald’s themselves didn’t make matters much better, with their patent of Ronald McDonald including this ‘unique’ sketch of the gleeful guy;


Yet again, I speak for myself here, but this looks like the sort of face to kill you in your dreams and leave you waking in a cold sweat, wishing you had been legitimately killed instead of experiencing that freak’s face. How on earth was this deemed a child-friendly design, I’ll never know.

If you think you’re too old for nightmares, stare into McDiabetes face above long and hard, and you’ll soon change your opinion come morning rise.

CEO of McDonald’s, Jim Skinner, defends the creepy clown by stating, “Ronald McDonald is an ambassador to McDonald’s, and he is an ambassador for good, Ronald McDonald isn’t going anywhere.” Skinner, Jimmy Savile did a lot of charitable, ‘good’ stuff in his life, and look what sort of person he was. Arguing someone “does good stuff” isn’t a valid argument, because often the nicest people are nice to hide their darkest secrets.

In the brilliantly wise words of forum user ‘lobstr’, “It’s not just the clown, it’s the whole goddamn lot of their little ‘characters’. In some locations in their playground area, you’ll still see decals all over the place of these horrid relics of the 1970s; ‘Grimace’, ‘the Hamburglar’, and, um…those little things that look like Mushmouth from Fat Albert. McDonald’s has never been known for their awesome ad campaigns; that whole “ba ba da da daa I’m lovin’ it” is so f—— stupid it gives me douche-chills every time I hear it.”

Ronald McDonald, we’re on to you.

-Benjamin John Wareing


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