The Royal County Arbiter

16 November 2005

Ronald McDonald Counterculture Encounter

A few days ago, I noticed a little logo on the back of a box of McDonald's french fries. It featured child-pleasing corporate spokesman Ronald McDonald putting some litter in a can. Here it is:

McDonald's french fry box stencil design

The stylised, one-colour, stencil-aping design. The excessively gleeful expression. The lunging pose. If I had seen this logo anywhere else (a wall, a magazine, a poster) I would have immediately assumed it was some kind of satire or parody of, well, something. Look at the evidence:

Examples of counterculture designs

"Keep Britain Tidy" trash-depositing designs, along with stencil-rendered faces and logos, have in the last decade been claimed and subverted by graffiti artists and counterculture-junkies across the globe. So much so, in fact, that seeing such a design in a corporate-approved context now seems positively jarring.

It's interesting to me that an innocuous art style can - and has - become so associated with the counter-cultural movement that I found myself looking for meaning where there was none. The power of subvertising.

So, what do you think? What does the rubbish-dunkin' Ronald McDonald logo say to you? Could it be that we've reached such heights of postmodernity that this logo was designed by some hep young advertising turk, fully aware of its alternative connotations?

Or is it just a nice bold logo of a clown being conscientious?

While you're thinking, why not visit AdBusters, home of subvertising?
And here are all the Flickr photos tagged with 'stencil'.


Anonymous Anonymous:

Ronald is running to catch the cup that someone has just thrown away so that he can fill it with sugar and sell it again. TEH IRONIES!

Or he's going to use the cup to scoop the shite out of the bin to sell to customers.

Sorry I swore on your blog.

9:57 pm  
Blogger Myrtle Peacock:

I think we've reached a breaking point in culture. This (trademarked) Ronald now officially means whatever the hell you want it to mean. Let's stencil it around town and get the anti-corporate set in a whirl.

10:06 pm  
Blogger ben:

Yes, I am presently murdering children on my non stop Stab Dem Babies NOW!!!! Tour 2002 but I am doing it "ironically" so it actually means that I see the wrongness in what Im doing, which makes it right. Obviously.

10:53 am  

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