Oh McDs – What Were You Thinking?

You may have heard the uproar this week about McDonald’s new micro-site  365Black.com targeting African Americans.

Now, ethnic marketing is a common practice and when done right, it can really help brands connect with specific demographics by speaking to their needs, wants, interests, etc.

But, like a white kid in surburbia talking about his “gansta life,” this McD mirco-site is trying waaayyyy too hard. Some have even said, it’s downright offensive.

One page draws an analogy to the African Baobab tree, saying, “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.”

I don’t know which is more offensive really, that McDonald’s is pandering so blatantly to the black community or that they are trying to be analogous to “nourishment from fruits and leaves.” I mean, look I’ve got nothing against McDonald’s. I admit the Bic Mac is tasty, but come on … really? Fruits and leaves?

Here’s some of what others have had to say:

“To put it simply, I’m offended,” wrote blogger Craig Brimm, founder of KissMyBlackAds, a national blog with the best name ever. “I am well aware that McDonald’s has a minority agency (if not multiple) that does some hardcore minority focused work … this 365 Black initiative rocks the boat a little too much in my opinion.”

Writers at Steel Closet, a multi-interest blog, wrote: “I’m not the crazy activist type who gets all riled up when I see an offensive ad. In fact, I welcome some insensitivity if the laugh is big enough. But I had to do a double-take with this one. McDonald’s actually WENT THERE with its 365 Black Campaign. The premise of it is to celebrate Black pride and culture and dedicate 365 days to it, rather than just your standard Black History Month.”

He continued: “In theory, this campaign is a good thing and could potentially help further a community that has been historically disenfranchised. In practice, its genuineness just falls apart for a number of reasons. The main one is McDonald’s being a huge corporation not historically known for adamantly fighting for civil rights. More accurately, one would suspect McDonald’s is actually attempting to capitalize on the Black community’s historical disenfranchisement to sling some burgers.”

My personal favorite example of why this is so wrong comes from Kiss My Black Ads where he mocked up a micro-site for white people. I love this because it really shows so well that it’s the separation and the stereo-typing and the assumption that people respond to things collectively by ethnicity instead of individually that makes this so wrong.

Apparently petitions are popping up online to boycott McDonald’s over the site.

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