Monday, August 24, 2009 view on McDonalds' 365black site

So anyways, I found this FriendFeed thread from Zee.

It’s true. McDonalds has a website for black people.

The thread links to a TheNextWeb post that discusses, a McDonalds site targeted to African-Americans. Here's part of what said:

Look, I’m not black, so maybe I have no right to be offended. But this does offend me. It offends me because it shoots straight at the heart of cultural diversity, something which by now, we should all be celebrating because its part of every single country on this planet.

To create a site supposedly to celebrate African American culture and call it something like 365Black?? I’m lost for words.

Pardon my french, but lets not bullshit around, this is of course merely a way to target racial minorities. Companies do it the world over. But couldn’t the website have just been a diversity website saying they support all different kinds of cultures, races, charities and organizations?

If you turn to the FriendFeed thread, another reason for the outrage was expressed.

I suppose that's true, but I still dislike when communities are targeted for stuff that's unhealthy or unfair, like fast food, "payday" check cashing, and malt liquor. Call me old-fashioned. (edit: Actually, malt liquor probably doesn't qualify) - Richard Walker

I'm going to ignore the "supersize me" angle on this, and concentrate on the issue of targeting one specific racial group (actually, three, since they also have an Asian-targeting web site and another site called So I introduced this comment into the FriendFeed thread:

...are we going to be enraged when companies target...teenagers?

Zee's response:

that is completely different John...and i'm hoping you know it

I then poked around on the site and looked at the partners, which include the Thurgood Marshall College Fund,, and Vibe.

But as I continued to read, I found this article at Re:Generator that wasn't all that hot on the partners. Underneath a picture of Ronald McDonald in which Ronald just happens to have his right hand raised upward, and after another attack on the healthiness of the food, Re:Generator said the following about the sponsors:

Whatever the case may be, McDonald’s is safe so long as it stays partnered with All The Things Black People Love™: BET, Vibe, Coca-Cola, the CIAA and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. These august institutions would never partner with the likes of Ronald “i’m lovin’ it” McDonald unless they had the Community’s best interest at heart.

(Incidentally, the best part of that last sentence was the word "Community" in capital letters, which recalls the time a few decades ago when the media would question a sports figure, an educator, and an entertainer, and then announced that it had measured the pulse of the Black Community.)

Then I read a post in Black Gives Back, devoted to philanthropy in the Black Community (yes, that's capitalized) and featuring a quote from Bill Cosby. They're highly in favor of, going so far as to document some awards sponsored by McDonalds:

This year McDonald's recognizes Black Enterprise publisher Earl G. Graves, Sr.; CNN journalist Soledad O'Brien; NBA legend and philanthropist Alonzo Mourning; House Majority Whip and Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and McDonald's Owner and Operator Frank E. Mason. These individuals join the ranks of previous 365Black honorees, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, ESSENCE Magazine president Michelle Ebanks and founder Susan Taylor, along with journalist Roland Martin and educator Johnnetta B. Cole.

Anyway, the conversation continued on FriendFeed...and then Steven Hodson weighed in with an Inquisitr post. It began as follows:

I gotta say right off the bat here that this has to be they ... dumbest idea I have heard of yet. It is one thing for an entertainment network like Black Entertainment Television to gear their site content towards black people but the epitome of lily white corporate culture McDonald’s having a specific site aimed that the African-American segment of society is just plain stupid.

Now Hodson is approaching the issue in a different way. While TheNextWeb implied that ANY targeted site is undesirable, Hodson is pretty much saying that you can target a race if you're of that race, but if you're not, you can't.

So Black Entertainment Television (which, for the record, is NOT black-owned, but owned by Viacom) can target blacks all they want to, but BET cannot sponsor another organization (in this case, the McDonald's sponsored

Why does Hodson think it's OK for Viacom to target blacks, but not McDonald's? Because McDonald's is more transparent than Viacom is. When you go to, you immediately know who's sponsoring the site. But I challenge you to go to and see how many mentions of Viacom you can find. I searched and couldn't find a single one.

But I did find what the Urban Dictionary had to say about B.E.T. - and it feels about B.E.T. about the same as most of the FriendFeed commenters feel about McDonald's. From the Urban Dictionary:

B.E.T is a ministrel show. Thats all you need to know. It undermines the black community and continues to make us look like a bunch of idiots. BET also teaches more like brainwash blacks into thinking being a thug and a video whore is the way to be in life. In all honesty, BET should be changed into NET(Niggas Entertainment Television). Because B.E.T has nothing but niggas for the most part.

And to white people who cry racism, please do your research before you open your mouth. First of all the company(viacom) that oversees B.E.T is mostly white. Second if you think B.E.T represents black people, then you are a racist yourself, and have bought into the stereotype they have fed you. Not to mention you all have your own white television channel its called MTV and 90% of the other channels that are on your network. Do not be so ignorant sheesh.

So forget about those examples, and let's go to the original premise in TheNextWeb, that everything should be wonderful and diverse and that we don't mention those different races and genders and sexual orientations and deviated septa. And let's use the true meaning of diversity, and not assume, like Harvard University, that "diversity" is simply a synonym for "non-white."

Or, one size fits all.

For what it's worth, many of us identify ourselves by our racial and cultural backgrounds. Do we want a McDonald's website that is the same all over the world? More importantly, do McDonald's customers want a website that is the same all over the world? Or will they start complaining that "McDonald's doesn't speak to me?"

That's why they call it target marketing, folks. Now one could legitimately question whether is a marketing ploy with no substance (posters in the FriendFeed thread took both sides on that issue), but I'm not going to fault McDonald's for targeting Blacks, or Asians, or Latinos, or Whites, any more than I'm going to fault Viacom for doing the same thing.

I welcome comments.
blog comments powered by Disqus