Ronald McDonald is one of the most well-known figures in popular culture. And believe it or not, Ronald actually does get some hate from time to time. But not everyone really knows what’s going on behind the scenes when it comes to all the legal aspects that the actors need to follow. In order to call yourself Ronald, there are some rules to follow and also a few perks that can come your way. So Here are 10 Secrets About Being Ronald McDonald You Never Thought About.
10. Ronald McDonald is not allowed to hug kids
Kids have boundaries that need to be respected. While intentions may be noble, a misinterpretation can lead to trouble that no brand, no matter how big and popular, wants to deal with. That’s why anyone who plays the role of Ronald McDonald is not allowed to hug the children. Imagine the scenario if Ronald hugged a child and they started crying. This could then create a snowball effect which leads to the kid’s parents believing that the actor somehow hurt the kid. As if that weren’t enough for this rule to be put in place, who would really want their kid hugging some strange clown in a fast food restaurant anyway? This might be one reason as to why the brand has outright banned the actors from hugging. This is probably a good move from Mickey D’s corporate. Big fast food giants have enough on their plates when it comes to legal issues and they definitely don’t want Ronald involved in any lawsuits. Imagine if, to avoid legal trouble, parents had to sign a waiver if Ronald were to give out hugs? It would cost money to collect and then send those waivers to corporate for sorting and filing in the case of any litigation. In short, it’s an entire fiasco that can easily be avoided. IN the end, it’s a rule that makes plenty of sense and the consequences for breaking it are likely severe. While it’s not directly known what the consequences are, but it’s not hard to imagine that Mickey D’s would fire any actor for breaking this strictly enforced rule.
9. The total number of Ronald’s
While it has been said that worldwide, there’s around 250 Ronalds working for the company at any given time, the actual number might be much higher when you consider how widespread the brand truly is. With the reported 250 amount, it would mean that there’s one mascot for about every 150 restaurants as there’s an estimated total of 37,855 McDonald’s locations. As to how McDonald’s keeps up the appearances of the characters over several countries and locations, can’t be easy. Mickey D’s must have one talented booking agent making sure all the Ronalds across the world are where they need to be on any given day. This would make sense since corporate wouldn’t want two Ronalds showing up at the same charity event or showing up at the same Walmart. The number of Ronalds and the number of Mickey D’s restaurants factor into why it’s rare to actually see a Ronald McDonald at your local outlet.
8. The actors need to sign waivers
Actors hired to play the role of Ronald McDonald need to sign a waiver. It’s mandatory and protects the company in the event an actor breaks the rules or gets sick from working with kids. There is a little more that go into the waivers that the actors sign. It basically states that they’re not allowed to disclose any information that they’ve learned while on the job, which is good because it prevents other companies from creating copy cats of Ronald. This is basically insurance for the company. If something bad like an injury or hot coffee burn were to happen to one of the actors while on shift, they might be inclined to sue their employer, but a waiver would protect McDonald’s from precisely that. However, while a waiver might be common practice for dangerous activities like skydiving and even zip-lining, it’s not something you’d expect to have to agree to simply to get a job as a mascot. Despite all of that, there are likely some benefits to both parties after the waivers are signed. An actor, in some circumstances, might find themselves getting some extra perks and benefits included in these waivers. I wonder if any future Ronald can get a rider in the contract like a rockstar making crazy demands like having a dressing room decked out with only yellow and red flowers, or requesting french fries but all must be longer than 3 inches. Somehow, we don’t see Ronald McDonald being such a diva.
7. Ronald can’t tell where the burgers come from
Sometimes children are curious as to where their food comes from. In those situations, the parents might decide to have a conversation with their children. How and when the parents go about telling their kids where food comes from and how different products are made is up to them. This makes total sense as kids vary in degree of being able to understand and process information. So if a parent does not want to tell their child how a hamburger is made yet, it is their decision. It’s not up to Ronald to tell kids how the chicken McNuggets are made. Keeping Ronald McDonald as just a mascot and not a dispenser of information can not only keep the good reputation of Ronald alive. This also prevents the characters from revealing information that might ruin a child’s love for McD’s altogether. You see, Ronald is a just a clown and Mickey D’s doesn’t want him telling a little kid something they might find mildly traumatic. I mean, we wouldn’t want Ronald talking about Santa Claus with these little kids now would we? These are issues left up to the parents who can find all the info they need from the McDonald’s website, well except for on Santa Claus that is.
6. Some of the actors get awesome services
McDonald’s has always tried to have a culture of being like a family for those who work there. They take care of their own, which certainly explains why it is said that they offer perks like bodyguards, personal chefs, and chauffeurs to the Ronald McDonald actors. These services are pretty awesome, especially the personal chef. I guess corporate HQ wants to make sure their clown is eating well. There are also some instances when Ronald needs protection or at least someone to keep all the twelve-year-old boys in check when they wonder if he’s real or not. For example, it was described that some children actually try to stomp on his red shoes and pull his hair. In this case, it’s pretty important to have a big burly bodyguard to say “step away from the clown.” Though, this probably isn’t the reality for every Ronald McDonald actor though. It’s only for a select few of them who might be longtime employees or be working at a large event. It’s basically a way to keep the actor feeling safe and comfortable all while following the many rules that come with being Ronald McDonald.
5. Being Ronald in Japan is far different
McDonald’s Japan is known for being very unique in its marketing tactics as well as for its menu options. That’s why it’s not surprising that there are several differences with Ronald in Japan. Everything about the traditional aspect of the clown was revised and even modernized to appeal to a new type of customer. In Japan, he’s apparently known as Donald McDonald. There was also an advertisement that featured a female Ronald McDonald which was described as sexier, younger and without ten pounds of makeup on. The ad featured a model wearing a red and white striped tankini, and fancy large red shoes. Despite what some people might think about the ad, it turned out to be a hit – with high school girls apparently liking it the most. In another instance, there was what appeared to be a male Ronald, who was looking fresh in a McDonald’s colored suit and tie. He also had nice hair which differed from the traditional clown’s hairstyle. These Ronald’s were obviously not aimed at kids. Other than these specific ad campaigns, the Japanese Ronald McDonald is pretty much up to corporate standards in the region.
4. Actors have got to follow a script
Scripts are very useful, they prevent someone from panicking and breaking company policy. Better yet, they allow for quick and decisive answers to frequently asked questions from children and possibly some adults. In the rare event that the actor playing Ronald McDonald doesn’t have an answer to a question from a customer, they’re expected to say “ask someone wearing normal shoes.” This would likely be the case if an adult was asking specific questions about the history of McDonald’s or the food itself. What this action does is simply redirect the customer to a person better equipped to deal with the question rather than the customer getting false or incorrect information from the mascot. That’s just one reason why those who are tasked with playing the part of Ronald McDonald have got to hold their ground and stay on script. They’re not allowed to break it by any means. While consequences for doing so are not known, it can only be imagined that depending on what was said, an actor might find themselves being fired or suspended. However, that would probably only happen in the event of a serious deviation from the script, like a Ronald McDonald jumping on tables and yelling at customers. That is definitely NOT in the script.
3. Everyone Knows Ronald McDonald
Being the mascot to one of the biggest fast food restaurants chain in the entire world, is of course going to make you a pretty recognizable figure. But maybe even more recognizable than you would think. At the height of Ronald McDonald’s popularity craze, you could find people sporting all kinds of Ronald memorabilia. Everything from actions figures, dolls, lunchboxes, watches, glasses, clocks, telephones, basically any memorabilia that exists, Ronald has lended his likeliness to at some point or another. This saturation of the clown faced mascot into pop culture turn Ronald McDonald into one of the most recognizable figures in the entire world. Need proof? A magazine called “Marketing Week” actually did a marketing survey, and concluded that “Ronald McDonald was said to be so huge, he was more popular than Jesus”. This was the headline to an article they released in the 90s and it was based on a survey they had done of 7,000 people, across eight countries, that found that far more people recognized the McDonald’s mascot, than they did the Christian cross. This is a pretty crazy statement, but these claims were actually also backed up in the 2004 documentary “Super Size Me”. Where the subject of the documentary, Morgan Spurlock, went on to prove this point in a clip where you see a host of school kids who all easily recognize who Ronald is, but mistake an image of Jesus for George W. Bush… This is due in large part to the fact that McDonald’s spends more money on marketing and advertising than any of its competitors. Which in turn launched Ronald McDonald into superstar status, one that could be identified by over 95 percent of Americans! It is said that the only fictional character that is more recognizable, is the one and only Santa Claus.
2. Ronald McDonald looks far better today
When the original Ronald first made himself known to McDonald’s fans in the 1960’s, he wasn’t as friendly looking as he is today. Forget the familiar big red shoes and unique yellow outfit, he was more than a little creepy and seriously looked like a lunatic that was about the nab you in the shower. The original Ronald had a cup for a nose, a hat that was similar to a tray with food on it and massive amounts of makeup. Compare that to the new and improved Ronald, who’s got a fairly similar color scheme, large red shoes, a clean red wig, and a vest, and you can see the character has come a long way. The hat/tray was tossed into the trash, which was a good move since it really did clean him up a lot and make him look much less like a tray holder. This allowed for his other aspects to show off a little more. The copious amounts of makeup have stuck around but we can definitely say the application of it has been thankfully refined. These changes were a good move. Let’s face it, that hat would not be flying high today and the same goes for the straw-like hair from the original Ronald. Ronald McDonald is known for his big head of red hair as much as he is for his burgers. The first actor to play Ronald McDonald was a famous weatherman named Willard Scott. He had also played the role of Bozo The Clown, a popular television clown of the era. Scott’s role in creating the original Ronald was largely forgotten after McDonald’s decided to give the mascot a makeover. Scott was fired and the Ronald we all know and love today began to take shape.
1. No McD’s for Ronald McDonald
McDonald’s is a fairly messy food. It’s not the type of food that someone wants to eat without washing their hands afterward. There’s salt, sauce and whatever else on a person’s hands. Now, imagine what their faces might look like if they had to eat quickly. On top of that, there’s the issue of getting clothing dirty by accident due to some sauce falling on your shirt. These are some of the reasons why a Ronald McDonald actor is not allowed to eat when in costume. They can’t ruin the image of the company’s character by eating a messy meal. It simply doesn’t portray a good and clean restaurant environment if their mascot is covered is mustard and ketchup. This also makes a lot of sense when you consider how much makeup the actor is wearing and how much time goes into putting it on. Since there are standards for how the makeup is applied, it might not be easily fixable with a “touch up” brush after a couple of Big Macs. Since Ronald McDonald is the mascot for the company and more specifically for the kids, it could be seen as a direct promotion to eat fast foods like McDonald’s, which might not sit too well with parents. In fact, this was actually one thing that the clown was accused of back in 2010 – contributing to the obesity problem and marketing junk food to kids. There is no denying that Ronald McDonald has been through a lot over the years, but there is also no denying that he is probably one of the most famous mascots ever created.