More than 500 physicians have signed a letter to McDonalds, asking the corporation to retire Ronald. As reported in the WSJ, the letter says:
"The letter, slated to run in the form of full-page ads in six metropolitan newspapers around the country on Wednesday, acknowledges that 'the contributors to today's (health) epidemic are manifold and a broad societal response is required. But marketing can no longer be ignored as a significant part of this massive problem.'"(It's looking more and more like marketing is the answer AND the problem!)
I actually like McDonalds. But I like McDonalds largely because we use it as a rare treat, not as a frequent source for sustenance.
I also acknowledge that marketing is a big reason why McDonalds is successful. Long before they learned how to read, my children recognized the Golden Arches as the place for a burger and a toy. The marketers at Micky D's are really very good at what they do - they long ago recognized their brand identity as a place for predictable and affordable family meals - and they've used marketing to continually reinforce that brand identity and reach new customers throughout the years. Though I've never been to B-school, I'll bet Mickey D's provides an excellent case study for aspiring marketers.
But to say that McDonalds' marketing department is a "significant part" of the massive problem of obesity is wrong. McDonalds' marketers do not force us at gunpoint to gulp down multiple Big Macs. McDonalds is known to offer a number of high calorie meal options - and their calorie counts are now on the back of every place mat placed on every tray used when dining in at McDonalds. If you're not aware that burgers and fries eaten in excess are not good for you, then you've been living under a rock.
It's the consumer who chooses to buy the burger - and the fries - and the full-of-sugar soda. And it's parents who are choosing to take the family to fast food restaurants all too frequently. They're the ones responsible for the food their children eat, not McDonalds.
To blame "marketing" scapegoats a corporation for choices made by individuals. And that's the real problem with so many of our issues today in America. It's always someone else's fault.