Ronald McDonald takes to Twitter, gets makeover

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Ronald McDonald takes to Twitter, gets makeover
This undated image provided by McDonald's on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 shows the character Ronald McDonald with updated clothing. On Wednesday, the company said the mascot will take an active role on social media for the first time. The move marks a turnaround from recent years, when he faded to the background as McDonald’s came under criticism for using him to market to children. But the world’s biggest hamburger chain seems ready to give its clown a higher-profile role as it works to boost weak sales. (AP Photo/McDonald's)
This photo made on April 8, 2014 in Guantanamo Bay naval base and Joint Detention Facility, shows Ronald McDonald, the mascot of the McDonald's fast-food restaurant chain outside their first and only restaurant on Cuban soil. The restaurant was open in 1986 with a purpose to support morale, welfare and recreation activities for service personnel and their families. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo made on April 8, 2014 in Guantanamo Bay naval base and Joint Detention Facility, shows Ronald McDonald, the mascot of the McDonald's fast-food restaurant chain outside their first and only restaurant on Cuban soil. The restaurant was open in 1986 with a purpose to support morale, welfare and recreation activities for service personnel and their families. AFP PHOTO/MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A man dressed as Ronald McDonald throws out the ceremonial first pitch before a spring exhibition baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals, Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR MCDONALD'S - Jack Brockbank, Guinness World Records judge, is presented a certificate at the McDonald's and Guinness World Records event during Redhead Festival in Breda, The Netherlands on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013. 1,672 redheads, accompanied by famous redhead Ronald McDonald, set the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of redheads at the 2013 Redhead Days Festival. More than 5,000 redheads attended the global event from 80 countries. Throughout the weekend, Ronald McDonald served as the Redhead Days official ambassador by delivering smiles to many people. McDonald’s is making a $1 donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities (up to $10,000 USD) for every person who changes their Facebook or Twitter profile picture using www.mcdonalds.com/mcdsmiles, #mcdsmiles. (Patrick Post/AP Images for McDonald's)
The Ronald McDonald balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
Ronald McDonald waves at the Boxing Hall of Fame parade in Canastota, N.Y., on Sunday, June 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Ronald McDonald waves at the Boxing Hall of Fame parade in Canastota, N.Y., on Sunday, June 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
The Ronald McDonald balloon floats in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
Two unidentified Muslim young girls sit next to a Ronald McDonald doll outside a McDonald's fast food restaurant in Kuala Lumpur Tuesday, March 11, 2003. Malaysia, a predominantly moderate Muslim country, has been one of Asia's most outspoken opponents of a U.S.-led strike against Iraq, warning that a war could alienate Islamic nations. (AP Photo/Teh Eng Koon)
FILE - In this file photo taken April 6, 1988, Ronald McDonald watches as about 20,000 balloons head skyward at the opening of the 10,000th McDonalds restaurant worldwide, in Dale City, Va. Some branding experts think the McDonald’s Corp. clowns’ floppy red shoes and flaming-red hair are too hackneyed for iPod-savvy kids. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook, file)
Ronald McDonald cruises over spectators on Broadway during the 63rd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, Thursday, Nov. 24, 1989. An estimated 1.8 million people attended the parade in the cold weather. (AP Photo/Tim Clary)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 18: Ronald McDonald on the Red Carpet at the Inspirational Country Music Awards on October 18, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Inspirational Country Music Awards)
HAVRE DE GRACE, MD - JUNE 14: Anna Nordqvist of Sweden poses with Ronald McDonald after winning the McDonald's LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock Golf Course on June 14, 2009 in Havre de Grace, Maryland. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE - MARCH 26: Brooklyn Pope #23 and Nikki Speed #11 of the West pose with the Most Valuable Player trophy with Ralph Alvarez, President and Chief Operating Officer - McDonald's Corporation and Ronald McDonald following the 2008 McDonald's All American High School Girls basketball game on March 26, 2008 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
HAVRE DE GRACE, MD - JUNE 08: Yani Tseng of Taiwan with the trophy and Ronald McDonald after her victory in a play-off after the final round of the 2008 McDonald's LPGA Championship held at Bulle Rock Golf Course, on June 8, 2008 in Havre de Grace, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
HAVRE DE GRACE, MD - JUNE 10: Suzann Pettersen (L) of Norway holds the trophy with a person dressed as Ronald McDonald after the final round of the 2007 McDonald's LPGA Championship held at Bulle Rock golf course June 10, 2007 in Havre de Grace, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 21: Ronald McDonald poses with kids at Family Fun Day benefiting the AROD Family Foundation and Ronald McDonald House Charities at The Miami Seaquarium on January 21, 2007 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Arod Corporation)
Beijing, CHINA: A lion dance troupe performs with Ronald McDonald during the opening of a McDonald's drive-thru outlet built next to a gas station in Beijing 19 January 2007. US fast-food giant McDonald's, in corporation with China's largest oil refiner China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (Sinopec), will open about two stores a week in China until 2008, with a focus on drive-in windows at gas stations to take advantage of the nation's auto industry. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 22: The Ronald McDonald balloon is inflated in preparation for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, November 22, 2006 in New York City. This marks the 80th anniversary of the parade which features their famous balloons along with bands, clowns and Santa Claus. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)
Munich, GERMANY: Bane Knezevic (L), president of the western division of McDonald's Europe and chairman of McDonald's Germany, poses with a man dressed as his company's mascot Ronald McDonald during a press conference, 21 February 2006 in Munich, southern Germany. The fast food chain presented its annual report. AFP PHOTO DDP/JOERG KOCH GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read JOERG KOCH/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 17: Ronald McDonald and actor Ted McGinley arrive at the starting line of the 24th annual Saint John's Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon at Griffith Park on April 17, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 15: Ronald McDonald jokes around at the 2005 World Children's Day at the McDonalds Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House on November 15, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 6: Ronald McDonald (C) and recording artists (L-R) Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child attend the McDonald's press conference at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on October 6, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California. Destiny's Child is the new voice of the 'I'm Lovin' It' Worldwide Tour and McDonald's commercial partner. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: The Ronald McDonald balloon makes his way through Times Sqaure during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York 25 November 2004. The parade features 59 balloons and 27 floats. AFP PHOTO/Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
AUKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 21: Ronald McDonald outside the Queen Street McDonald's branch in Auckland, New Zealand, Wednesday April 21st 2004. As part of a Greenpeace protest, a Ronald McDonald lookalike 'resigned' as the company mascot in protest at McDonalds use of chicken fed on genetically engineered (GE) soy meal. (Photo by Geoff Dale/Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND: A woman walks past a Ronald McDonald statue greeting visitors with a traditional Thai greeting, or 'wai', outside the US fast-food restaurant in downtown Bangkok, 16 October 2003. The organisers of a major anti-US protest planned for downtown Bangkok during the upcoming APEC meeting relented 16 October to a Thai government demand that they hold the action at a less sensitive location. US fastfood outlets have often been the target of protesters during recent international summits. AFP PHOTO/Sam YEH (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - DECEMBER 11: McDonald's Ronald McDonald participates in trimming a Christmas tree in the lobby at the Chicago Police Department headquarters December 11, 2002 in Chicago, Illinois. In a program entitled Operation Shining Star, Santa, Mrs. Claus and Ronald McDonald teamed up with members of the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies for Christmas tree-trimming and delivery of gifts and holiday cheer to needy children gathered at the Chicago Police Department headquarters. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) - Ronald McDonald has a new look, and he's ready for a selfie.

McDonald's said Wednesday its famous spokesclown will take an active role on social media for the first time, using the hashtag #ronaldmcdonald. The move marks a turnaround from recent years, when the red-haired mascot faded to the background as McDonald's came under criticism for using him to market to children.

But the world's biggest hamburger chain seems ready to give its clown a higher-profile role as it works to boost weak sales.

The company says Ronald McDonald won't have his own Twitter handle, but that it will post photos and videos of him on its existing social media accounts. The clown, known for his painted-on smile and baggy yellow jumper, will also appear in TV ads later this year wearing new clothes, including cargo pants and a vest. Other photos of him posted by McDonald's on Wednesday showed him wearing a red sports coat over the cropped pants.

"His iconic big red shoes will remain the same," McDonald's said in a statement.

"Selfies ... here I come! It's a big world and now, wherever I go and whatever I do ... I'm ready to show how fun can make great things happen," McDonald's quoted the fictional clown as saying.

Ronald's promotion comes as McDonald's looks to reset its business. The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is hoping to fix slowness and inaccuracies in orders and is emphasizing its most popular items in marketing, including the Big Mac and french fries.

Ronald McDonald, first played by longtime TV weatherman Willard Scott, made his debut in 1963 and has played a major role in making McDonald's the dominant player among kids in the fast-food industry. The company even named him its "chief happiness officer" in 2003.

A group called Corporate Accountability International in recent years has pressed McDonald's to retire the clown and stop marketing its food to children. McDonald's has defended its mascot as "a force of good." At its annual shareholder meeting last year, CEO Don Thompson noted the company hasn't been using the clown the way it used to, but stood by the mascot.

"Ronald is not a bad guy - he's about fun, he's a clown. So I'd ask all you to let your kids have fun too," Thompson said.

On Wednesday, the company said Ronald "represents the magic and happiness" of McDonald's.

After staying relatively quiet in recent years, the clown did make an appearance of sorts online recently after Taco Bell ran TV ads featuring real-life Ronald McDonalds professing their love for its breakfast. McDonald's subsequently tweeted a photo of the clown kneeling down to pet a Chihuahua. The image was a reference to Taco Bell's retired mascot and received around 3,000 retweets.

McDonald's said Franchise owners around the world will be able to use new designs incorporating the revamped Ronald over the next few years.
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