McDonald’s Marketing Machinations: Ronald Returns

01 November 2001

Burger-boosting clown Ronald McDonald is set to return center stage in marketing and branding for McDonald’s, one of a series of marketing strategies announced at the company’s analyst meeting earlier this week.

The fast food chain plans to increase the character’s presence in its ads over the course of the next year, emphasising his appeal to children and families. “We need to knit Ronald McDonald back into all our brand advertising,” said US marketing officer Tom Ryan, though he did not disclose whether Ronald’s old foe Hamburgler would undergo a similar renaissance.

One ad will see the clown cheer up a sullen child after repeated attempts by his father have failed, accompanied by the tagline ‘Smile’ (shortened from the less imperative ‘We love to see you smile’).

The company is also expanding its McDonald’s with a Diner Inside concept, converting twelve eateries in Illinois into the new formats, which offer in addition to standard McDonald’s fare such culinary delights as meatloaf and chicken fried steak.

Another strategy is the international launch of its Boston Market cafeteria chain. Three outposts in Toronto are planned for next year, with a further branch in Sydney due next spring.

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