Ronald McDonald Joins Twitter, Gets Makeover

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Ronald McDonald (Photo by Ben Horton/Getty Images for Variety)

Ronald McDonald (Photo by Ben Horton/Getty Images for Variety)

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NEW YORK — McDonald’s said Wednesday its famous spokesclown will take an active role on social media for the first time, using the hashtag #ronaldmcdonald. The move marks a turnaround from recent years, when the red-haired mascot faded to the background as McDonald’s came under criticism for using him to market to children.

But the world’s biggest hamburger chain seems ready to give its clown a higher-profile role as it works to boost weak sales.

Without providing details, the company says Ronald McDonald will “take an active role” on its social media channels. It says the clown will also begin appearing in TV ads later this year wearing new clothes, including yellow cargo pants and a red-and-white striped ruby shirt.

“His iconic big red shoes will remain the same,” McDonald’s said in a statement. The company said Ronald won’t have his own Twitter handle.

Franchise owners around the world will be able to use new designs incorporating the new Ronald over the next few years, it said.

“Selfies … here I come! It’s a big world and now, wherever I go and whatever I do,” McDonald’s quoted the fictional clown as saying.

Ronald’s promotion comes as McDonald’s looks to reset its business. The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is hoping to boost weak sales by addressing slowness and inaccuracies in orders and emphasizing its most popular items in marketing, including the Big Mac and french fries.

Ronald McDonald did make an appearance of sorts online recently, after Taco Bell ran TV ads featuring real-life Ronald McDonalds professing their love for its breakfast. McDonald’s subsequently tweeted a photo of the clown kneeling down to pet a Chihuahua. The image was a reference to Taco Bell’s retired mascot and received around 3,000 retweets.

Ronald McDonald, first played by longtime TV weatherman Willard Scott, made his debut in 1963.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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