Monday, August 24, 2009

Hope: The McDonald's version

Have you seen 365Black yet?

I just received the link from my loyal reader Casey:

At McDonald's®, we believe that African-American culture and achievement should be celebrated 365 days a year — not just during Black History Month. That's the idea behind It's a place where you can learn more about education, employment, career advancement and entrepreneurship opportunities, and meet real people whose lives have been touched by McDonald's. Plus, you can also have a chance to win exciting once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. So make sure you visit often — you just might get inspired.

That's right. McDonald's is not "The Man", as 1970s blaxploitation movies would say. They are down with the people. Particularly the black people.

Like the unique African Baobab tree, which nourishes its community with its leaves and fruit, McDonald's has branched out to the African-American community nourishing it with valuable programs and opportunities.

Yeah, I don't buy it either. But it is not an unexpected move for the fast food giant, which has long been appropriating the language of the African American community with its AAE grammar in the slogan "I'm Lovin' It".

It's also interesting in light of the perception that African Americans are targetted by fast food marketing. PETA even has a whole movement around it, with Forest "Don't f**k with it" Whitaker as a spokesman.

Netwellness claims that the African American community is particularly hard-hit by the adverse effects of the modern lifestyle: 28.8% of men and 50.8% of African American women are considered obese.

And according to a study by the American Public Health Association:

Poorer neighborhoods with a higher proportion of African American residents have fewer healthy options available, both in food selections and in food preparation; restaurants in these neighborhoods heavily promote unhealthy food options to residents.

To be fair, it's still up to individual consumers to make their consumer choices. And rather than pushing hamburgers, McDonald's is using the site to promote its corporate social responsibility around African American community engagement, with scholarships, employment, and media partners. They've even done health outreach. But, as with any business move, nobody could have any doubt as to what the bottom line is.

So what do you think? Smart branding? Cynical cashing in on the Obama era? Underhanded marketing ploy? Or just playing to their audience?

Whatever your take on their motives, I'm sure it will stir up lots of discussion.

(Image stolen from Adrants)


  1. Wouldn't be so bad if their community outreach had included some better health/diet programms and offerings ... as it stands now, it's still stinks of The Man.

  2. I can see the next marketing move for McD -- target the female demographic! Soon you'll see Ronald McDonald as Ronnie McDonald, an androgynous figure that appeals to both men AND women! :P

  3. Shiiiit.. all deez pictures 'n junk make me wanna eat sum Mack Dee!

  4. Am I the only one who finds this offensive? I thought it was an Onion article. Okay. Granted, this is a career site but comparing themselves to a Baobab tree? Nourishing the community? That's like big oil comparing itself to an olive tree. In my opinion, it seems pretty predatory.