As many of you know, I was raised by a man who frequently wore makeup. My dad was Ronald McDonald. Yes, it’s true. Actually, my dad was an executive with the Kroger Corp. who moonlighted as Ronald on the weekends. I have fond memories of parades, store openings, personal appearances, and driving dad around in costume as he waved to surprised passers-by and delighted children. Being around Ronald was always adventurous. In fact, it was at the Cherry Festival in Traverse, Michigan that Ronald and I shook hands with then-president Gerald Ford on the same day that Colonel Sanders greeted dad with a terse, “Hello, clown.”
That was during the heyday of Ronald McDonald. He was a fast-food marketing icon. An ad-man’s dream. And at once point in time he was the third most recognizable character by children in the Happy Meal demographic — right behind Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse.
But today, not so much. And that’s the gist of the article I just came across called “Ronald McDonald uncool in hipper market.” You can read it here:
The funny part is that I “predicted” this back in 2005. In fact, the metadata on the following image says it was created July 9, 2005.
It was just a joke. I was transferring some old slides to digital images when I came across a very odd shot of dad, off the beaten path, walking somewhere in Detroit that you would not normally see Ronald. I don’t know if he was waiting in the wings to join a parade or if he was heading toward an appearance when the photo was snapped. Ronald was virtually never alone. He was always thronged by fans and kids — and handlers and advertising execs. But there he was, by himself, walking through an industrial neighborhood. It was such an odd picture that I couldn’t help but add a caption.
So here’s the original “predictive” image and caption from 2005.
RIP Ronald McDonald 1963 – 2011
But he’ll always live on in our hearts. 🙂