This morning I'm watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with my 16 month old daughter. The colors and music and choreography have her riveted, and while she watches from my lap, I try to sneak in sips of coffee and peeks at the newspaper.
Marching bands, Broadway shows, Sesame Street: they come and go in a flash, certainly noted more by my girl than by me. But then along comes one of the countless marketing portions of the Parade, this one McDonald's, represented by none other than Ronald McDonald himself.
And I couldn't help but notice that the world's most famous corporate clown seems to have undergone a bit of a make-over.
Now, his clothing still seemed to be the same, time-worn yellow and red outfit that I've been seeing all along. The shoes are still outlandishly large and floppy. Yes, these are close enough to unchanged to appear as such to my untrained, and admittedly cautious eye. (Clowns, I admit, freak me out.)
But I ask, what happened to his hair?
The Ronald I last remember specifically had almost Bozo-esque locks springing explosively from his head in a frightening blood red splat of combed chaos.
And now he sports a slicked-down, more contemporary, if caricatured, coif. Even the color seems re-cast, perhaps even more bloody now, but deeply nourished blood, rich and almost claret.
And the thing is, this morph is the result of millions of dollars of marketing research. It was instituted because the research found that people will find Ronald more homey, more huggable, and dare I say, more lovable.
And people, the research will have found, will respond positively not only with their hearts and minds, but with their wallets and purses as well.
Yes, Ronald's new 'do will prompt more people to more often muck up their digestive tracts and circulatory systems with the sludge the world's most adroit, successful food corporation peddles.
And in the end, I really don't care about Ronald's hair all that much. If I want McNuggets, it's not because the clown's tresses have changed. It's because, for those few moments of my life, I happen to care very little about my long-term health and I dearly crave whatever tasty drug it is they inject into their product.
But the New and Improved Ronald is, I can guarantee, raking in new adherents every day.
So while I applaud the humanist endeavors upon which McDonald's embarks, and the global Good they seem to want to do with what I will leerily grant might be altruistic intent, I'll say that the Old Ronald would work just as well in his ambassadorial role as does the New Ronald.
And that means the new locks on the block are there for one reason.
And rest assured, The Sheep are doing their best to make MickyD's research and marketing dollars well and wisely spent.
Meanwhile, clowns still freak me out. But lately, people freak me out even more.