McDonald’s Corp. investors have reportedly rejected a shareholder proposal that asked the company to prepare a report assessing the role of fast food in “childhood obesity, diet-related diseases and other impacts on children’s health.” Led by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, which apparently owns $2,000 in company stock, the proposal coordinated with an open letter campaign launched by Corporate Accountability International (CAI) that asked McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner to retire “marketing promotions for food high in salt, fat, sugar, and calories to children, whatever form they take—from Ronald McDonald to toy giveaways.” The letter apparently ran in several media outlets, including the Chicago Sun-Times, New York Metro and San Francisco Examiner, and garnered signatures from more than 550 health professionals and organizations.
At the May 19, 2011, shareholder meeting, however, the company recommended a “no” vote on the proposal, and Skinner evidently defended the iconic clown as an “ambassador for good” and the face of the Ronald McDonald House. “He does not advertise unhealthy food to children,” Skinner was quoted as saying. “McDonald’s does not advertise unhealthy food choices to children. It is up to them to choose and their parents to choose. And it’s their responsibility to do so. Ronald McDonald is going nowhere.” See Advertising Age, May 17, 2011; The Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2011; Reuters and Syracuse.com, May 19, 2011; QSR Web.com, May 20, 2011.