McDonald's longstanding clown mascot, Ronald McDonald, has been part of the giant fast-food chain since 1960. But in recent years, the friendly clown has become almost non-existent to the point of becoming just a childhood memory.
One reason is due to reports of spooky clowns chasing motorists with knives and lurking around schools caused a nationwide media frenzy in 2016 that affected McDonald's friendly clown. Due to the clowns' unfortunate situation, the company decided to withdraw Ronald McDonald from participating in community events.
Also, various watchdog groups criticized Ronald's marketing of unhealthy fast food to impressionable kids for years (via The Chicago Tribune), even calling him the fast-food version of Joe Camel. In 2014, McDonald's attempted to rebrand Ronald's image to make him cooler but to no avail.
When McDonald's started going through a makeover in 2012 with modern dining areas, self-order kiosks, and earth tone colors, it appealed to adults more than kids. In effect, Ronald's goofy look just doesn't fit with the restaurant's new look.
Although Ronald McDonald is absent in restaurants and social media, the Golden Arches has not entirely eliminated him. McDonald's has been flying a giant Ronald McDonald balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade for years and may continue as long as McDonald's is around.