Nearing 50 years of age, Ronald McDonald is the epitome of successful international semiotics. His lasting exuberance and exaggerated features are fairly unrealistic, but somehow create an air of humanism that comforts the individual. He is always happy pleasantly plump, and is rarely sited in the myriads of complaints against the company he represents.
His main appeal to glocal consumers is his racial ambiguity. While you can assume he is a white American man, his facial features are relatively vague. Therefore, he can easily be used for commercial purposes. Though his presence in television advertisements is low, his likeliness is shown in statues and photographs in many major McDonalds locations. There are statues of him surfing, sitting at park benches, and greeting people all over the world. Google searches of Ronald McDonald USA/Russia/Cambodia/Lichtenstein/Ireland/Japan show people of different origins posing with identical plastic statues.
While understated, Ronald McDonald’s importance is obvious. He is one of the few uncontested features McDonalds has left. He a dependable hostess, the face of their charity, and even ditched his yellow jumpsuit to train for the 2010 Olympics. And unlike the imposing Golden Arches or the tailored commercials, Ronald McDonald is a steadfast representation of the McDonalds Corporation: cheery, plump, and relatively intimidating.