A Japanese TV commercial for fastfood company McDonalds has Ronald MacDonald in an unexpected new guise, according to the British Guardian newspaper's website.

"She's sexy, she's stylish, she's sophisticated - and somewhat surprisingly, she's Ronald McDonald," the paper said. The latest campaign, which has "a foxy female version, with shoulder-length straight auburn hair in place of Ronald's frizzy mop, smoulders at the camera in a flowing yellow dress, and later a red and white striped bikini with thigh-length leggings and red high heels," according to the paper, has been hailed as a great success.

The man behind the campaign insists he did not create a female Ronald McDonald - but merely appropriated his instantly recognisable outfit, the paper said. Hidekazu Sato, known by his nickname Kazoo, the associate creative director at Beacon Communications - a joint venture of Leo Burnett and Dentsu - said the costume was so recognisable it was a mnemonic - a design that people would instantly associate with McDonald's.

"We devised the costume and took the red and white stripes and the yellow, which were recognised and converted them into a stylish dress," Kazoo said via a translator. "We were assuming that even if we didn't include the McDonald's logo and even if the model was a beautiful caucasian just those colours of the mnemonic design would wake up people's association with McDonald's."

"The important point is we didn't change Ronald himself - we played around with his costume," he said. "The customers are calling her the female Ronald but that was not our intention."

McDonald's Japan refused the Guardian permission to show the full TV advert.