‘It’ is on!

Most of us have heard of Ronald McDonald.  We know him all too well as the red headed smiling clown hanging out under those golden arches luring us in with those quarter pounders and biggie fries. But in Russia, they believe Ronald McDonald bears too close a resemblance to Steven King’s infamous clown Pennywise in the movie ‘It’ and they don’t like it.  In fact, they don’t like ‘IT’ one bit.

If you haven’t already seen Stephen Kings’ movie ‘It’, you would be in the minority. ‘It’ has been dominating the box offices not only in the US, but also oversees. According to Box Office Mojo, it broke records in Germany, earning $11.6 million in its opening weekend, the largest ever for a horror film in the market. With such soaring success, the Russian Burger King wasn’t too happy over all the publicity that crazy clown is getting in the film, aka: Pennywise, so they decided to get their hands a little greasy by pulling a simple in-theater stunt. Once the film was over, and viewers had their fill of scares, the credits began to roll, and Burger King projected a quick message onto the screen that read: “The moral is…never trust a clown,” followed by the Burger King logo. They took things even further by filing an official government complaint to the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service demanding the movie be pulled from theaters because –wait for it – they believed Pennywise, the clown in the movie, resembled Ronald McDonald, which gives McDonalds an unfair advantage in the restaurant fast food biz.

Interesting that the Russia Burger Kings would worry the mass public sees Ronald McDonald as a possible ‘twin’ to Pennywise, the child killing clown. Pennywise has razor sharp teeth and a mouth that can swallow a small child whole. Not certain how that would be an unfair advantage for McDonalds, but I’m also not competing for the fast food market, so I digress.  However, for most of us, we just see Ronald as a guy in a weird ‘Where’s Waldo’ shirt, wearing way too much red lipstick. Then, on the other side of it, you have Pennywise, the evil villain of the movie ‘It’ luring children into sewer drains, no happy meals included.



So, yes, the Russian Burger King believes that a clown that terrorizes children in a horror movie is driving customers to their competitor. A Spokesperson for the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS), confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Burger King’s complaint has been received and is being evaluated. They also added, “We can’t be concerned with the content of the film because the writer and director have their own creative understanding of any character. The agency would have to determine though whether the movie contains advertising or product placement.” That is some pretty petrifying product placement…

After an epidemic of creepy clown sightings circulated the world last year, McDonald’s cut back on appearances for their mascot, Ronald McDonald. Also, earlier this year, you can bet a Big Mac and a large fry that McDonald’s wasn’t happy after a video titled “It McDonald’s Edition was posted on YouTube, containing some of the movie’s plot points and, of course, featuring Ronald McDonald instead of Pennywise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYfAt9DCpaE

Since Burger King’s complaint, The Hollywood Reporter and the Washington Post have picked up the story. Although Burger King has filed this protest, it seems to us like they’ve created one clever marketing move. One could say the real lesson here is in marketing and Burger King certainly knows how to increase their brand’s visibility and get picked up by mainstream news outlets. Does your business want the same thing? Well then call Plaid Swan for all your marketing needs. We’re freakishly good at our job and that’s no clowning around.


Plaid Swan Inc. is a female owned and operated marketing communications firm with multiple offices located in the Midwest. Looking to make your company’s blog stand out? Don’t have a blog, but want one? What’s a BLOG? Contact us today to see how we can bring your brand to a new stellar level!

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-Haley Corkery │ Public Relations Specialist