Is it my imagination, or has Ronald McDonald gotten frightening as I've grown older? I came across a picture of the world's most famous clown while reading about the new marketing campaign McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) is launching and couldn't help wondering how he could possibly appeal to children.

Anyway, it's not Ronald's image that the company is trying to improve; it's its own.

McDonald's is launching a global marketing campaign to educate consumers about the importance of living an active, balanced lifestyle. The company is teaming with athletes who have broad appeal, including Venus and Serena Williams and Yao Ming, to try to spread its message to as many consumers as possible.

McDonald's is also continuing to show that it provides healthy alternatives to its typical choices of burgers and fries. The company plans to add to its selection of entree salads and will continue to work toward eliminating trans fats from its frying oils -- though I wouldn't expect it to announce a date to do so. As Rick Munarriz wrote last month, the company agreed to shell out $8.5 million to settle a lawsuit for failing to meet a self-imposed deadline to remove trans fats from the oils. The company is hoping that its new campaign and an increased number of healthy menu options will prevent future payouts.

Critics argue that McDonald's is not truly concerned about the health of its consumers and that the moves are simply window dressing. I'm not going to argue over whether McDonald's is doing enough to provide healthy alternatives, or whether it really has the public's interests at heart.

Whatever its motives, the important thing for investors is that McDonald's continues to add to its plethora of menu selections in an effort to appeal to the largest audience possible. At the same time, the company is taking the initiative to try to avoid some of the lawsuits that seem destined to be filed. What more can investors ask for?

McDonald's won't be able to avoid all lawsuits and negative press, but its ability to remain flexible and its continually aggressive approach will allow it to maintain its spot as the industry leader for a long time. Now, if Ronald could just get a makeover...

For more fast food for thought, see "Grimacing Over McDonald's Payout."

Fool contributor Mike Cianciolo welcomes feedback and doesn't own shares of McDonald's.