In 2016, Alana Institute – a Brazilian non-profit civil society organization – reported McDonald's to the Public Defender's Office of the State of São Paulo, which filed a lawsuit against the company for illegal practice of advertising to children for the "Ronald McDonald Show" in public and private schools in São Paulo.
Previously, in 2013, Alana Institute carried out a survey and found that, solely in the month of July, more than 80 Ronald performances took place in schools in five Brazilian states: Bahia, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina and São Paulo. According to the Institute, the company’s mascot was the star of the shows and its logo was displayed on the stage during the entire presentation. Thus, it was clear that there was a commercial interest disguised as educational content. In addition, Alana Institute claimed that the use of schools for marketing strategies is especially harmful, as it is an environment where children are unaccompanied by their parents and, therefore, more vulnerable.
The São Paulo Court of Justice granted the Public Defender's requests on October 18, 2018, recognizing the abusiveness and illegality of the "Ronald McDonald Show". McDonald’s appealed the decision and, in August 2020, the Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision after concluding that the company’s show was not simply an educational activity, but also a strategy for children advertising. With this decision, the company is prohibited from performing the shows in schools in the state of São Paulo, under penalty of a fine of R$ 100,000.00 (approximately US$ 20,000.00) per event.