- McSpotlight -

The REAL TRUTH About Ronald McDonald

Posted by: Chris Carey ( Personality Insights Inc, USA ) on August 28, 1997 at 03:00:04:

Read your interview with Mr. Guillianno -- "your" Ronald is a far cry from what I was exposed to in 5 years of working with McDonald's Corporate officials, Ronalds in many localities....

You will not find here a bias FOR McDonald's -- we have not worked together at all since 1984. However, this is a defense of the "Ronalds" I worked with worldwide for several years.

I had a close association with McDonald's, first as Director of Programming for the company that produced Ronald McDonald's live shows, and then as an independent consultant for McDonald's franchise holders and their advertising co-ops. At the time, there were 107 "Ronalds" in various languages all across the world -- some operating on shoestring budgets and some with tremendous underwriting from the area restaurants.

That Mr. Guillianno had a problem, as a "Shakespearean" actor "coming down" to play Ronald, is not surprising. Some of the Ronalds we worked with were very professional and some didn't get it. My amazement is that this corporation (or its advertising agency, which was actually this man's employer) could naively entrust the "care" of a BILLION DOLLAR trademark to someone who thought being a "rebel" or "individual" meant not zipping his yellow jumpsuit up to the top or not curling his red wig. My own opinion, while I am not aware that I ever saw this man work, is that he couldn't fill Ronald's red shoes!

The television Ronald in the commercial we saw as youngsters was King Moody -- Ziegfried's KAOS henchman on the old "Get Smart" TV show, and later on "Police Woman" (with Angie Dickinson) as a bad guy. King spoke to those 107 Ronalds at their first worldwide gathering on how they could answer the question, "Are YOU the REAL Ronald McDonald?"

He told them HE was not the REAL Ronald -- he was only an actor, one who played the part; that except for THEM, Ronald existed only on a piece of film; that HE may have supplied Ronald's FACE, but THEY supplied Ronald's HEART.... and these guys cried and hugged each other!

Mr. Chuck Rubner, who directed Children's Marketing for McDonald's at that time, instilled in these guys a desire to influence kids for the better. The origin of the Ronald shows was because he knew the character could accomplish real "good" in the communities. So, I am "burned" when social activists want to liken this area of McDonald's operations to Joe Camel in an attempt to gain support. Even someone who is anti-McD should applaud the "live" Ronald appearances as a good thing.

Raymond Moody, the bestselling medical doctor who wrote LIFE AFTER LIFE, pioneering research on near-death experiences, also wrote a book called LAUGH AFTER LAUGH -- on the healing power of humor. Dr. Moody spent months with Ronalds all over the world, seeing them in the burn wards, holding the hand of a screaming child whose burnt skin was being picked away so new skin could grow. Ronald eased pain that morphine could not control. You won't read about it in the paper, or the huge sums spent by the local store owners to have Ronald represent them on behalf of countless underfunded charities -- the times it would have been easier for them to say NO instead of YES -- but these things happen all the time. (But I assume Mr. Guillianno either neglected to do this kind of service for children, or he found it better to paint his dark picture by leaving out such vivid illustrations of the REAL Ronald.)

I have not had any connection with McDonald's Corporation or Ronald in the past dozen years or more. We often disagreed about content and direction regarding Ronald show issues, and eventually we stopped working together. But I have found almost everyone concerned with the Ronald program to be sincerely interested in having a good impact on kids.

I know guys who have worn the Yellow Suit for 20 years and more -- and in THEM, I have seen the Genuine Article (and that qualifies me to spot a counterfeit)!

I believe that, although the McSpotlight organization's promotion of Mr. Guillianno's self-serving interview has presented as "what it is like to BE Ronald," if the REAL TRUTH were told, Mr. Guillianno has no idea what it is to BE Ronald; he simply has a story about attempting to PLAY Ronald! His own comments in the interview suggest to me that he does not possess the understanding to do otherwise.)

Looking at the website's list of co-complainers, I think this frenzy is really about "diet and cancer" and "unionization" and "environmentalism" and "anticapitlism." In that case, the argument can and should be played out elsewhere... McDONALDLAND IS NOT A PLACE FOR TERRORIST LAND MINES! I have attempted to send this message as well to Mr. Giulliano (an 18-month Ronald at best!) without success, since his email address has not been listed at this site. I did send it to .bob. at McInfonet (the McSpotlight people) who was very courteous in replying that I had no credible position from which to speak -- even though I worked with over 100 Ronalds and never experienced a bitter report like Mr. Guillianno's. Well, reader, you be the judge.

I responded because the anti-Ronald interview was posted to the Kids.misc newsgroup, as the McSpotlight people invaded a parenting helpline hoping to enlist "soccer moms" in their crusade.

Certainly, Mr. Guillianno, who was also a Burger King for a short time, should have recognized the community services McDonald's was supporting, while seeing that BK was not involved in children's charities and projects on the scale of McD.... But again,his purpose in painting a picture of perfect villainy would not have been served if he had divulged McD's unseen and unsung acts of community support.

McSpotlight comments:
The use of newsgroups to announce new material on McSpotlight has been used as such - to announce new material to the site. Since this interview contained pertinent material for kids aswell as parents, newsgroups such as misc.kids were posted to with the express intention to inform and instill a sense of debate aswell as highlight what can be seen as a relevant and live issue for ALL parents and ALL kids - that of their exploitation through the use of characters such as Ronald and his chums, toys/ gimmicks and media advertising. Since the reaction was not the enlistment of 'soccer moms' (what are 'soccer moms'?) but actual comment within this Debating Room, this is proof that instigating debate has occurred.

The use of newsgroups is limited to the subject matter of the posting - most groups are moderated to some degree or another - if postings 'make it through' we can only derive from this that the posting was relevant to that newsgroup - according to the moderator at least.

Additionally it would have been somewhat dangerous to have supplied Mr Guilliano's personal details especially in light of his comments and some those on various boards around the net.

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