“Introducing the world’s newest, silliest, hamburger-eating-est clown … Ronald McDonald!” Scared of clowns? Maybe you should avoid time traveling back to 1963. That’s the year Ronald McDonald was introduced to the world.
The first commercial featured the original version of Ronald. And yes, he’s kinda terrifying … by today’s standards. But in 1963, he represented a fun trip to McDonald’s at an affordable price.
He … exemplifies one of the most important qualities of an effective commercial character: He doesn’t sell for McDonald’s, he is McDonald’s.
-Ad Age, 2007
This is just the first example of McDonald’s effort to bring in families with kids. From Ronald, to toys in happy meals to indoor playgrounds, McDonald’s has done more than any other fast food chain to market toward children. They even created the Ronald McDonald foundation, which funds charities that support sick children and help families.