Ronald McDonald (Still) Hearts Happy Meals - NBC Chicago

Ronald McDonald (Still) Hearts Happy Meals

The red-haired clown tries to boost support for Happy Meals at another controversial time



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    Ronald McDonald had a rough couple of months last year.

    In May, a group that pushed the death of Joe Camel urged the red-headed clown's demise in the name of childhood obesity.

    In June, another group threatened to file a lawsuit against the Oak Brook-based chain, alleging that it "unfairly and deceptively" marketed the toys in Happy Meals to children.

    McDonald's stood by their man, calling Ronald a "force for good" and an ambassador for the brand.

    "He communicates effectively with children and families around balanced, active lifestyles," CEO Jim Skinner said. "He does not hawk food."

    Ronald took a break from the spotlight, but he did not retire.

    This week the clown returned to work with a commercial that aired Wednesday, in the middle of another Happy Meal-focused controversy. A New York City lawmaker proposed a bill to ban fast-food gimmicks, like toys in Happy Meals, if the meal exceeds nutrition targets.

    Ronald's new commercial doesn't mention any of that, but after McDonald's recent adult push with smoothies and lattes, his renewed presence brings the company back to kids.

    In the commercial, kids are encouraged to go to to play games with Ronald. With parents' permission, of course.