The icon from the United States that I chose to focus on was Ronald McDonald. Since starting in America, McDonald’s has expanded its business to countries worldwide. Their mascot Roland McDonald has followed this global expansion and become an international symbol for McDonald’s. Ronald McDonald is a kid friendly clown that is dressed from head to toe in the traditional McDonald’s red and yellow. He is usually associated with the children’s elements of McDonalds such as the happy meals or the play place at the McDonalds locations. Ronald McDonald became an icon in the U.S. because of the popularity of the restaurant chain. They created him as the face of the restaurant and had cartoons and commercials that depicted he and his friends. Up until recently he was always featured in the commercials and has always been an image seen inside the establishments. He has long been the face on the happy meals, and has been featured in advertising campaigns for the restaurant for years
Outside of the United States Ronald is still widely used by the McDonalds advertising and promotion. Since he is a happy clown he has a large appeal to children and tends to draw them to the restaurant. Since the parents are trying to make the children happy they will bring them to a place that they want to eat. One of the pictures that I found of McDonalds internationally depicts Ronald in China on stage with what seem to be Chinese dragons. Here McDonalds is attempting to combine Chinese symbols and McDonalds symbols by displaying Ronald with the dragons. The Chinese response to Ronald McDonald has been extremely positive. The people of China enjoy the food that McDonalds provides, and they enjoy partaking in enjoying American cuisine. They have expanded the franchise well into China as well as other countries in Asia. The response from the United States was not definitively negative, however since the obesity epidemic in America is a large problem McDonalds might not have been the best reflection of the what type of food our culture consumes.
As for what icon they could have used in place of Ronald McDonald, choices are limited. At this point in the business he has undoubtedly become the face of the franchise and will continue to represent the company. He is aimed at the youth and is intended to evoke feelings of happiness in children so they want to take a trip to McDonalds. It is possible that the Chinese McDonalds could have used a dragon in place of him, however a dragon does not seem to have the friendly connotation that a clown does. I cannot be sure though because my view on dragons is more relevant to United States culture and maybe children would find them appealing as the face of the Chinese franchise. Either way the argument cannot be made that McDonald’s has not bee successful thus far. Keeping Ronald as the face in foreign countries was a smart move considering they have localized other aspects of the business to fit foreign markets. Things such as catering the food menu items or the restaurant atmosphere have attracted customers in foreign markets, yet still retained the face that made the franchise famous.