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The Return of Ronald McDonald: How McD's Plans to Target 2 Year Olds

Just in time to get into a fight over whether Happy Meals should be banned in New York or the rest of the country, McDonald's (MCD) is bringing back Ronald McDonald in a new flight of TV commercials from ad agency Leo Burnett (video below). What's more interesting is why McDonald's would bother.

Adults were glad to see the back of Ronald, whose heyday was the 1980s. A grown man in facepaint and a wig? And in the age of the iPad, does a clown really have anything relevant to say to kids? Well, a survey from E-Poll Market Research, which tracks the popularity of brand characters, shows that Ronald remains popular with children aged 2 through 5:

At the same time, the McDonald's brand as a whole remains 10 points above average in popularity among parents with kids under 18:

"Use of the Ronald McDonald character does not appear to be harming the brand, and carries sizable equity with younger clientele," E-Poll concludes.

The return of Ronald will be greeted with joy by food activists who are trying to wean an obese nation from fast food. The fact that adults find Ronald creepy -- and that the only people who like him are too young to know what advertising is -- will boost the argument that the chain is targeting kids with unhealthy snacks.


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