His floppy shoes, painted-on smile and flaming-red hair may be a harder sell to today's kids who are trading in their dolls and trucks for manicures and mobile game apps at ever younger ages.
He also seems out of step with McDonald's Corp.'s new efforts to appeal to adults.
The 48-year-old spokesclown has fallen flat in new ads this year, according to Ace Metrix, a group that tracks TV advertising.
And the government is getting strict on marketing unhealthy food to children. That has both marginalized Ronald as more of a mascot than a product pitchman and landed him in the middle of the bigger debate about food makers' responsibilities in stemming the rise in childhood obesity.
McDonald's says it is proud of the food it offers and that Ronald teaches children to be active.
Critics say it's time to hang up the yellow jumper.
A group called Corporate Accountability International plans to ask Ronald to retire at the company's annual meeting today. They say Ronald encourages kids to eat junk food, contributing to a rise in childhood obesity and related diseases such as diabetes.
The group, which campaigned against the Joe Camel cigarette mascot in the '90s and complained about Ronald as a role model at McDonald's annual meeting last year, has stepped up its campaign. The group has taken out full-page ads Wednesday in the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Metro and four other papers to call for his head. The ads, signed by more than 550 health groups and professionals, carry the headline, "Doctors' Orders: Stop Marketing Junk Food To Kids."