Critics say he coaxes children into eating unhealthy burgers and fries, and he might even be a bit strange. Others say he's a happy symbol of childhood.
No matter your opinion of Ronald McDonald, the McDonald's clown mascot with the bright red hair and matching giant shoes is embroiled in a bit of a media circus.
"By connecting its corporate image to a fun-loving clown, McDonald’s gains a tremendous amount of positive public relations," the study said. "And what better way to bypass parents and market directly to children than through a clown."
The study went on to give the history of the McDonald's mascot, which debuted in 1963, the report said. It then made the case to "retire" Ronald McDonald.
The study also drew a parallel between increasing childhood obesity rates and the rise of the McDonald's chain, which markets directly to children, the study said.
"In the past 30 years, the percentage of obese children has tripled in children ages 2 to 5, and quadrupled in children ages 6 to 11," the study said.
McDonald's responded to the retirement campaign with a press release on its website, posted May 18.
"We are committed to responsible advertising and take our communications to children very seriously," the release said. "We understand the importance of children’s health and nutrition, and are committed to being part of the dialogue and solution.
"As the face of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Ronald is an ambassador for good and delivers important messages to kids on safety, literacy and balanced, active lifestyles."
The release was posted under the headline "Ronald McDonald is Here to Stay."
Regardless of the study's merit, not everyone is convinced a cartoon clown is to blame for children's health issues.
"I think when children go to McDonald's, they're typicially going with adults," said Rick Trail, 52, from Ellicott City, MD. "Probably the adults should be the ones responsible for what the children are eating."