Ronald gets a McMakeover

On the heels of Paris Hilton’s sexually supercharged burger campaign for Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr, fast-food giant McDonald’s is serving up a new generation of Ronald McDonald – one that’s not a clown, and not even a Ronald for that matter.

The McMarketing campaign in Japan replaces the traditional baggy-pants male clown with a sexy, bikini-clad woman.

“In the Japanese TV commercial,” notes Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “the foxy female version, with shoulder-length straight auburn hair in place of Ronald’s frizzy mop, smolders at the camera in a flowing yellow dress, and later a red and white striped bikini with thigh-length leggings and red high heels.”

“The customers are calling her the female Ronald but that was not our intention,” said campaign creator, Hidekazu Sato, known by his nickname Kazoo, through a translator. “We devised the costume and took the red and white stripes and the yellow, which were recognized and converted them into a stylish dress. …

“We were assuming that even if we didn’t include the McDonald’s logo and even if the model was a beautiful Caucasian just those colors of the mnemonic design would wake up people’s association with McDonald’s. The important point is we didn’t change Ronald himself – we played around with his costume.”

The London Times reports the Japanese campaign is bringing customers back to the Golden Arches, as well as winning praise from design and fashion experts, but the gender change is too radical for a global audience, so the traditional clown is not being retired.

Illinois-based McDonald’s, founded in 1955 by Ray Kroc, reportedly has had a grilling relationship with Japan since its debut in 1971.

According to the Times, when faced with accusations that hamburgers were inimical to the country’s diet, Den Fujita, the first McDonald’s Japan president, declared: “The reason Japanese people are so short and have yellow skins is because they have eaten nothing but fish and rice for 2,000 years. If we eat McDonald’s hamburgers and potatoes for a thousand years we will become taller, our skin become white and our hair blond.”

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