For those of you who believe being held accountable for your actions infringes on your personal liberties, you may soon be getting national recognition in the form of burning one very recognizable clown in effigy (figuratively – maybe).
Corporate Accountability International, a non-profit that claims “challenging abuse, protecting people” is their mission, yesterday sponsored a National Day of Action to retire Ronald McDonald. Their goal is to end the fast food giant’s marketing campaign that uses the red wigged, big shoed icon to advertise Big Macs and fries. Actually, their aim is to stop Ron (we’re on a first name basis) from pushing Happy Meals on kids whose parents don’t have a grasp of parental lingo – specifically the use of the word “No.”
As part of CAI’s Value the Meal push to hold fast food corporations accountable for children’s health and obesity problems, they encouraged people to pressure McDonald’s by calling the corporate office and requesting to speak with CEO, Jim Skinner. Although the chance of actually getting through to Mr. Skinner was equivalent to winning the lottery in all fifty states on the same day, a prepared speech was provided, to wit:
“I’m calling because our kids are sick. The national epidemic of diet-related disease puts our children’s health and lives at stake.
McDonald’s spends millions of dollars marketing its unhealthy products directly to kids, knowing full well that young children are particularly vulnerable to the manipulations of marketing.
Ronald McDonald is one of the most recognized and effective children’s marketing icons in history, hooking kids on unhealthy food and spurring a deadly epidemic of diet-related disease.
Recently, Mr. Skinner said there is “no way” that McDonald’s will retire Ronald. We are calling to urge him to listen to the concerns of the public, put kids’ health first, and Retire Ronald.”
I’m thinking their efforts fell on deaf ears. McDonald’s will barely feel the “bite” to their corporate earnings should litigation ensue. (Interesting that Burger King mascot – The King – is not getting equal attention. Could it be that his creepy oversized plastic countenance deters sales of Whoppers? Nah!)
In June of last year, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., also claimed that McDonald’s advertisements for Happy Meals “unfairly and deceptively” enticed children to whine and beg until their parents drove them under the golden arches and bought them a high caloric, low nutrient meal. The Center threatened to sue (litigation pending) because using The Clown for “… marketing has the effect of conscripting America’s children into an unpaid drone army of word-of-mouth marketers, causing them to nag their parents to bring them to McDonald’s.”
What about the clueless parents who seem unable to control the drones in their care? Nowhere in their publicly issued statements did the CSPI acknowledge that the blame must be shared and, in reality, weighs more heavily on the side of the individuals paying for those meals.
McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast food restaurants make no bones about the fact that they want to sell lots of burgers and fries. However, neither the King nor the Clown are holding a gun to anyone’s head and forcing them to eat the fat laden food they offer.
“Open your mouth and take a bite! Chew! Now swallow, or I’ll blow your brains out!”
I don’t think so.
Where children are concerned, parents are the final, definitive decision makers on whether a grilled chicken breast and baked potato or two greasy all beef patties, special sauce… constitute the evening meal. Sadly, too many parents have abdicated their responsibility and adopted the easy way out. Cooking takes time and effort. Why bother when some guy/gal with a chirpy voice and wearing a cute visor will just hand you a meal through a window in exchange for a few bucks. Mom and dad don’t even have to get out of their car.
I suppose the next law suit will be against the company that designs the playgrounds attached to most fast food restaurants because they, too, entice children to be – well, children.
Sarah Parsons, the author of the change.org article wrote:
Some folks argue that it’s parents’ responsibility to police what their kids’ eat. And these people are right — the onus is and should be on parents. But let’s be real: Parenting is an incredibly difficult job — possibly the hardest task there is. When fast food companies use shiny, new toys or lovable clowns to pimp out their unhealthy kids’ meals, it makes parenting exceedingly more difficult.
My response to her, “No, duh!!!!!” Of course parenting is hard work. It is also the most fulfilling job anyone can “choose” to do. Being responsible for the growth and development of another human being – mentally, emotionally and physically – is akin to playing god.
Instead of abdicating our parental position to another group of “it’s not my fault” do gooders, why not wear the mantle of responsibility that being a mother or father demands. Try saying “No” to your kids. Spice it up a bit from time to time. The word is easy in every language known to man – nyet/nein/nee/nao/etc.
Once we improve our language skills, we can move on to other important issues. A National Day of Getting a Grip on Common Sense might be a good place to begin. Anyone interested in starting a petition?