New look, new role for Ronald McDonald

Yahoo Finance

One of the best-known corporate representatives of all time is getting a new look. Ronald McDonald, the McDonald's (MCD) clown who came about 51 years ago, is being outfitted with two updated costumes as part of a push that appears set to return him to a more prominent role in the restaurant chain's branding. 

The yellow jumpsuit Ronald's worn for so long will be replaced with cargo pants and a vest, along with a red-and-white striped rugby-type shirt. That's going to be the standard uniform. For "special occasions," he'll sport a red jacket, bowtie and yellow pants, the company says. At the same time, he'll also get involved with the corporate office's social media efforts. (Click and drag the arrows in the images below to see the before and after shots).

Ronald, of course, isn't the only big chain mascot to have been rethought in recent years, as KFC, Burger King and Wendy's have all done the same. Here's a recap.

KFC

Colonel Sanders, both the man and the drawing, is a key part of what we used to call Kentucky Fried Chicken. In 2008, his animated likeness changed direction.

He kept the "signature string tie," but the white suit was turned in for a red apron. Why? KFC, part of Yum Brands (YUM) explains that the apron "symbolizes the home-style culinary heritage of the brand and reminds customers that KFC is always in the kitchen cooking delicious, high-quality, freshly prepared chicken by hand, just the way Colonel Sanders did 50 years ago."

Regardless, the Colonel hasn't been asked to have much to do with two KFC-related concepts: KFC eleven and the lone Super Chix location in Texas.


Wendy's

In late 2010, the daughter of Wendy's (WEN) founder Dave Thomas began appearing in ads for the square-burger seller. Her nickname is Wendy, and that’s how the stores got their name. But those aren't the ads people probably think of today. The ones likely to come to mind feature another redhead, Morgan Smith Goodwin, now generally referred to as "the Wendy's girl."

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Goodwin's been in a series of ads for the chain since her 2012 debut, and she's helped liven up a brand that was in need of memorable marketing 10 years after Thomas passed away. She's often seen at lunch, with hipsters and yuppies, enjoying Wendy's fare.

But she's not the only big move. That same year she started, the company changed its illustrations and signage for the first time in nearly three decades, updating the type and redrawing Wendy's face. The new logo also might or might not contain the word "mom."


Burger King

He ruled for several years in the early 2000s, but by mid-2011, the King was done. Burger King's (BKW) large-headed mascot didn't ever say much, though he did have a variety of semi-amusing encounters with real-world people along the way, including Drew Rosenhaus.

Burger King had incorporated animated kings in years prior, but eventually the "creepy" factor became too apparent with the last version. When a new ad agency was hired, the King was only a memory.

These days, Burger King isn't about mascots, but instead it's banking on a series of sandwich deals and lower-calorie Satisfries to help get customers in the door. That said, former Sacramento "King" Chris Webber did show up during March Madness.

 

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