Targeting Children and Communities of Color, McDonald’s Actions Speak Louder than Words
McDonald’s observes Black History Month this year with a new marketing campaign, Nuggets of Knowledge, which quizzes consumers on the accomplishments of Black people and offers a grand prize of a year of free Chicken McNuggets. These PR tactics of simulating social responsibility are a too-familiar cover for unethical corporate behavior. McDonald’s exemplifies the ways the fast-food industry targets children and people of color, perpetuates an unsustainable food system, and exploits its low-income workforce.
In an op-ed published in AlterNet and Nation of Change, PI’s Juliet Sims and Kinnari Shah looked at the jarring contrast between McDonald’s artfully spun PR image -- as a champion of communities of color and an instrument of career advancement -- and the real impact of its policies on workers, children of color, and communities of color.
Sims and Shah write:
[W]hat kind of good neighbor stalks children with ads for unhealthy foods everywhere they go, following them into their classrooms, crowding their neighborhoods with advertisements, and viral marketing to them through online games? McDonald’s deploys celebrities and athletes of color and borrows liberally from hip-hop culture to market to Black children. It uses websites such as 365black.com, MeEncanta.com, and MyInspirasian.com to target specific racial groups.
When it comes to McDonald’s primarily low-income workforce, the company prioritizes bonuses for executives over living wages for employees stranded below the poverty line:
It’s not that McDonald’s can’t afford to pay their employees living wages; it just refuses, preferring to rely on federal aid to sustain its unjust pay structure. When employees asked for financial help, McDonald’s set up a “McResources” hotline that briefed employees on how to apply for federal poverty benefits like food stamps, the Children’s Health Insurance Plan, and Medicaid. More than half of fast-food workers’ families receive some form of public assistance….
Read the full op-ed at AlterNet and Nation of Change.