McDonald's said Wednesday its famous spokesclown will take an active role on social media for the first time, using the hashtag #ronaldmcdonald. The move marks a turnaround from recent years, when the red-haired mascot faded to the background as McDonald's came under criticism for using him to market to children.
The company says Ronald McDonald won't have his own Twitter handle, but that it will post photos and videos of him on its existing social media accounts. The clown, known for his painted-on smile and baggy yellow jumper, will also appear in TV ads later this year wearing new clothes, including cargo pants and a vest. Other photos of him posted by McDonald's on Wednesday showed him wearing a red sports coat over the cropped pants.
"Selfies ... here I come! It's a big world and now, wherever I go and whatever I do ... I'm ready to show how fun can make great things happen," McDonald's quoted the fictional clown as saying.
Ronald McDonald, first played by longtime TV weatherman Willard Scott, made his debut in 1963 and has played a major role in making McDonald's the dominant player among kids in the fast-food industry. The company even named him its "chief happiness officer" in 2003.
After staying relatively quiet in recent years, the clown did make an appearance of sorts online recently after Taco Bell ran TV ads featuring real-life Ronald McDonalds professing their love for its breakfast. McDonald's subsequently tweeted a photo of the clown kneeling down to pet a Chihuahua. The image was a reference to Taco Bell's retired mascot and received around 3,000 retweets.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. pic.twitter.com/e0dFN1ZCqy— McDonald's (@McDonalds) March 29, 2014