Ronald McDonald on double standards, McDonald's
and Scottish heritage

He's married, has four children and six grandchildren and he lives in Scotland ...
he does NOT wear a red nose, does NOT wear make-up and has only entered a McDonald's store once ... it is of course the REAL Ronald McDonald.

Ronald, aged 61 year's and a retired school teacher, lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. He is a member of one Scotland's biggest clans (the McDonald's) and has been incensed by the double standards McDonald's Corp. has shown with regard to his own heritage and his own name.

Good Mornin' Mr McDonald, first of all would you please introduce yourself.

Ronald: Yes, my name is Ronald McDonald. I'm aged 61 years, I'm a retired principle teahcer of history, and I live in West Hill just outside Aberdeen with my wife. I've got four children and six grandchildren.

Could you tell us about the situation you find yourself in just now.

Ronald: Well this is something totally unexpected. Err, I read a wee bit in the paper about this sandwich bar McMunchies and what McDonald's restaurants were trying to do to it. This got up my nose considerably, I found this highly offensive so I decided to write a little poem in Scots and send a letter of protest down to McDonald's in London; I also sent a copy to our two local newspapers. All that I expected was perhaps, they might be interested in publishing my poem because they had done this sort of thing in the past.

Well, all of a sudden I found I was on the Friday I was a complete nobody .... only an average man in the street, err on Saturday I was plastered all over the front page of our local newspaper, then on Sunday I found myself in the News of the World ... by Monday ... I had twelve interviews with British radio stations, by the evening two New Zealand stations, five Australian ones, American stations, German stations and even an offer for the film rights for the trial from America, so this was totally unexpected.

Why do you think you got so much publicity for your actions?

Ronald: I think the ... it was the idea of the quarrel with a big company, there's the proprietor of a tiny sandwich bar, there's a pensioner, and this sort of thing just appealed to the public, they wanted to hear this sort of david and goliath struggle, it was a newsworthy item I think.

Is it just the fact that McDonald's are suing people using the 'Mc' prefix that has outraged you over McDonald's, or are there other practices McDonald's are invovled in that you dislike?

Ronald: It was their business methods, to me this presents the rotten face of big business: one aspect is their charity, good work with the clown Ronald McDonald, their idea of rooms in hospitals ... that's the positive side, but they also have a negative side that I disliked intensely- and this was the idea of big business hammering down on small people and this is something which got quite up my nose.

Do you ever eat at McDonald's?

Ronald: I think I did eat once when I was driving down the motorway but I'm not at all fond of fast food, I much prefer home foods, if any member of my family eat there it's entirely up to them, it's a free society they can please themselves.

Do you see McDonald's attempt to trademark part of Scotland's heritage as a typical assault by an MNC upon global diversity?

Ronald: That's a rather complicated question that one, 'global diversity'. I do feel, it gets up my nose a bit that they're trying to steal this thing, they allege it's for commercial purposes they don't consider this to be an attack on the personal surnames at all, but to me they're pinching peoples names without authority and they are using it for commercial purposes, so the converse is true where using MY name for commercial purposes but they're 'crilling' (complaining) someone else in using a very small part of it, to me its double standards.

Have you ever considered organising a class action, with others, against McDonald's?

Ronald: I didn't initially, to me all I wanted was a little poem in the paper - they didn't even publish the poem - but the way things are going I would be quite delighted to join in, I don't think I would be capable of organising anythingbut, I think I would be quite delighted to join in a class action if by this you mean the ordinary men and women in the street I would be delighted to join it.

How did you feel when you first heard of the Ronald McDonald clown character?

Ronald: It is only recently that it started to get a wee bit irratating - it's nothing more than that just a mild irratation - because I find now if I am introduced at a party or somewhere else sometimes there's a little comment or some such sort, they find it mildly amusing it's rather like you being born with the name Harpo or Groucho Marx you're automatically associated with the clown character, most people are too polite to do that, but I do find it mildly irrating but no more.

What do you feel about McDonald's in general - ie advertising to children, their attitude to their employees etc?

Ronald: Now I am not qualified to answer about their litter it's really the people who are using the place that's creating the litter I think they probably do try to clean it up ... they certainly do appeal to children this is part of their Roanld McDonald thing, I believe there was a survey in America in the 1970's that stated Santa Claus and Ronald McDonald were the two most likeable adults - this was surveyed amongst children under 10. I find that they're fairly typical of American big business, they have a reputaion of being fairly miserable with their employees, their wages are not particularly good. It is not a corporation I think I would like to work for.

What do you think about the McLibel Trial and what the two defendants are trying to achieve?

Ronald: I'm just not too sure EXACTLY what the two defendants are trying to achieve I believe they are complaining about McDonald's polluting the earth, I not really qualified to make a comment on that. What does get up my nose a bit is the fact that again you've got this enormous multi-national company with unlimited resources cracking down on two people, that offends my sense of social justice.

The next question on my list is "How do feel about sharing your name with Ronald MCDonald"? but I think you have already answered that one.

Ronald: Yes, I think so.

How has this situation affected your everyday life?

Ronald: I was quite happy being retired, I spent my writing short stories, poetry, plays .... all of a sudden completely unwanted I find myself projected into the ehh international scene in fact, I converse with people all over the world now. It hasn't affected my everyday life at all, I'm quite happy to cycle down with my rusty old bike, down to the paper shop but I'm quite delighted to have been given the ooportunity if I can put the boot into McDonald's practices, if this is it I'd be delighted.

Are there any particular dangers in what McDonald's have done?

Ronald: I think it's what they've done in the past and what they continue to do, their overzealous protection of what they call their registered trademarks. To me this is where big business is taking over the country, the average man in the street it seems to me it's ahh a b it of an attack on democracy with big business running the country instead of our politically elected representatives not that they're much good either.

Do you think there is popular support for the kind of prtest against giant corporations that you are fighting?

Ronald: I think there is ENORMOUS support for this. Once I had spoken to all the different radio stations in Australia for instance, I discovered there is a tremendous ground-swell of support against this sort of thing that McDonald's are doing, tremendous popular support - I was really surprised by it. On the other hand I found myself speaking to ahhhha radio staion in Texas and there I was called an 'ordinary old hoot' because .... it was fairly typical of the media of course - they had blown up one very small part of my argument that I disliked them using my name - Ronald McDonald - this is the only part they picked up, I'd never contemplated suing McDonald's over it - somebody asked me 'am i going to sue?' I said I would LIKE to had I resources. But with some of the offers I've had now I'd certainly be delighted I call sell the film rights to it.

(Interviewer: Haha haha)

Ronald: Nothing is going to make money out of it - all I wanted was a wee bit o' sympathy and help for this lady down in Fenny Statford.

What particular reasons do you think McDonald's had when they set about their course of action against Ms Blair, of 'McMunchies'?

Ronald: They're stated actions was that the public automatically associates 'M.C.' with McDonald's. Now you must pretty dim, I think, to associate McMunchies, if you're looking at it, with McDonald's. It's ahhh an insult to the public, to think that they can't differentiate between the name McMunchies and McDonald's. But then they state that the public associates McDonald, and hence MC with very high standards of hygiene, the service and all the rest of it.

In fact it's a bit insulting to small businesses, because their standards of hygiene are probably just as good, but they seem over-zealous in their pursuit and defence of this name to which I don't think they have any right to do..

Have McDonald's now been in contact with you, and, if so, what have they said?

Ronald: McDonald's have not been in touch with me, allegedly there is a letter being sent to me where they are explaining their position and I've now been waiting a week for this - still no sigh of anything - with the result then that I faxed them down a message re-iterating my complaints and suggesting a course of action. I still haven't received a reply to that yet.

Is there anything you would like to add to what you have already told us?

Ronald: I'd like to make it clear, I'm not trying to insult Ronald McDonald - the clown himself - I have no intention of suing McDonald's about the use of my name, it mildly irritates me, but to me it's the question of double standards. They can happily take people's names, they can use it for commercial purposes yet they object if somebody quite legitimately uses even a tiny part of the name, which is not even theirs anyway. It's double standards. The other, there are three points to this argument, the main point to me was their methods. This huge multi-national company with unlimited resources using an enourmous sledgehammer to crack down on one little nut and this seems to be typical of the sort of thing they do.

To me it's totally wrong, it's morally indefensable. The third point is this attack on our Scottish heritage, they're claiming this prefix 'M.C.' - this has been the property of the Scottish and Irish nations for over a thousand years - and here's them claiming it belongs to them. They allege they are not interested in the personal name only in the commercial use of it and then only in emm connection with food production - to me it is still totally wrong, it doesn't belong to them it belongs to the public domain.

Do we have your permission to feature your answers on the McSpotlight Internet page (audio and text transcription)? Your answers may be edited, but the sense will not be altered.

Ronald: Yes you may certainly use them.

Thanks very much for a very interesting interview Mr McDonald.

See also: Ronalds protest poem - 'Tae McDonald's Restaurants Ltd'