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Ronald McDonald's 'Fresh' New Makeover Is Straight Out Of 1998

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The Ronald McDonald of the Internet age is here -- and he's wearing cargo pants.

McDonald's unveiled a new look for the famous clown on Wednesday while announcing a new role the character will play in the brand's social media channels around the world.

Though Ronald's oversized clown shoes and red hair remain, the fast food giant gave the 51-year-old character a normcore makeover -- or makeunder. His not-quite-on-trend trappings include cargo pants, a vest and a rugby shirt.

But wait, there's more!

"Reserved for special occasions, Ronald has a whimsical new red blazer with the Golden Arches on the front pocket and his well-recognized signature on the back, and a special bowtie to complete the look," the company said in a statement. You can check out the evolution of Ronald McDonald through the years at USA Today, and his new look below:

ronald mcdonald new

The re-imagined Ronald McDonald's everyday look (left) and special occasion outfit (right).

For comparison, here's what Ronald McDonald's outfit looked like before:

ronald mcdonald

Ronald McDonald in his former trademark yellow jumpsuit had branding experts wondering if the clown's floppy red shoes and flaming-red hair were too hackneyed for iPod-savvy kids. (AP Photo/McDonald's Corp., file)

According to a statement from McDonald's, the new threads were designed by Tony Award-winning theatrical designer Ann Hould-Ward of "Beauty And The Beast" fame.

"As a strategy, it feels a little desperate," brand consultant Kate Newlin told USA Today, noting it's as if the new Ronald is shouting, "Please remember you once loved me."

Of course, his new look could have been worse. Via Giphy, here's how the company imagined Ronald might look with a different hairstyle in an ad from the early '90s:



Putting Ronald McDonald at the forefront of the company's social media could signal a shift for McDonald's, as Business Insider notes the character had recently been limited to supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities following criticism that the clown helped market unhealthy food to children.

Ronald's makeover comes shortly after he was co-opted by Taco Bell in an advertising campaign and McDonald's announced lower-than-expected first quarter earnings.

"Customers today want to engage with brands in different ways and Ronald will continue to evolve to be modern and relevant," Dean Barrett, McDonald's senior vice president and global relationship officer, said in a statement.

The company also got a quote from the suddenly social media-savvy Ronald McDonald:

“Selfies … here I come!"

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