Are McDonalds Commercials Racist?

A huge multinational corporation making racist sterotypical commercials that targeted blacks was the topic of conversation at my house last night.  It seems that Mcdonalds cannot put a black person in a commercial unless he or she is dancing, rapping, popping and locking, or doing double dutch jump rope in the ghetto.  Now contrast this with whites who appear in commercials, who merely enjoy a steaming cup of coffee and hash browns for breakfast, in a friendly, clean restaurant with broad American appeal.  See the difference? 

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You begin to feel that McDonalds is being racist with the way they portray blacks.  It began, some say, with this double dutch ad.

Now they have a black man rapping about chicken nuggets, and in this ad, the beautiful light-skinned black woman is dressed to the nines.  Fried chicken bits and sex appeal accompany these stupid lyrics: “Girl you got a 10-piece please don’t be sting-ayyyy..”

Watch this next commercial where the child of the well-dressed black family enters the room with a giant boom box, and proceeds to pop and lock his way through a package of apples, yogurt, and caramel dipping sauce.  The child’s stereotypical antics brings a smile to the stern faces of his family.

So is McDonalds deliberately portraying all blacks as having magical powers to dance and sing their way through a Big Mac meal?  What is even more ironic is that McDonalds has done extensive market research and focus groups proving that these commercials are well received by their target audience, which means that not only do blacks not find such commercials offensive, they actually prefer them to other commercials! And this is not just in the USA either.  Watch this commercial from Brazil where 4 black guys sing their way across a McDonald’s restaurant just like minstrels in a traveling roadshow.

Even when McDonalds portrays a black person in a positive light, such as a business owner who is taking a lunch break- McDonalds still brings on the racism.  In this commercial the business owner runs a shop full of African knick-knacks.  Not something sensible, such as a coffee shop, printing business or fashion boutique.  And since the black owner won’t sing and dance, those African knick-knacks will.

So is McDonalds racist?  Or the best ever at focus group marketing?

23 comments on “Are McDonalds Commercials Racist?
  1. Very interesting post. One would think if McDonalds was racist, there would only be happy white people in their ads. Why advertise to a market demographic you supposedly “hate”. But then, Blacks don’t get to decide what racism is…rich white liberals do. So if some white pundit says it’s racism….it is, regardless if blacks like and respond positivly to the commercials.

  2. McD’s can’t win here. Nor can any business really, when nobody knows what the standard for “offensive” is until a minority complains about being offended. Then we have a new standard until the next minority gets his/her feelings hurt. If blacks are portrayed as successful, educated, and professional, the company gets criticized for making them too white. Conversely, if they are portrayed as degenerate, ghetto misfits, then the company gets in trouble for racial stereotyping. But you can’t leave them out of the ads entirely or you’ll invite the “bigot” criticism.

    Everybody’s just too damn sensitive.

  3. Gregory, great point about racism being defined by rich white liberals. I have to admit that my yardstick to measure racism against blacks likely originated from the same white liberals that have all but outlawed the images of Indians in modern culture.

    And Ed, you have a great point too. McD’s is going to be criticized no matter what they do when they try to market their product to black folk. But they must be doing something right with their marketing strategy. It certainly looks racist to me, but I don’t hear anyone in the black community complaining.

    I guess the toughest job in McDonalds is not cleaning the deep fat fryer. Its the guy who has to walk the tightrope between sensitivity and sales in the marketing department.

  4. Lovely that you seem to think Black people don’t find it offensive.. that is quite a blanket statement there.. I for one am offended by these commercials.. especially the singing nugget man.. but it wasn’t until I saw that one that I said.. WTF McDonalds.. that one was outright and blatant.. no question as to who they were trying to sell to whether its well-received or not.

    I agree with Ed, there are too many different people period for anyone to agree with whats offensive or not, there are Black people who act like coons and minstrels all on their own (Flavor Flav anyone?) who would see this in the same way as they see themselves, like everything is just fine. On the other hand you have black people like me who think its trash.. either way you go.. no one agrees.. and I wonder who’s getting polled about these dumb commercials? Probably not the black honor student in college.. probably the Flavor Flavs of America

    McDonald’s is just a corporation of b.s. Everyone knows that big macs are not good for you, and most of the food isn’t that tasty anyway but it is continually devoured by people everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if the “research” they’ve done isn’t as much b.s. as the “fresh” ingredients they serve.

  5. Jasmine,
    Thanks for writing. I didn’t mean to make a blanket statement. But there must have been a focus group of blacks that agreed that these ads were, if not the least offensive, attractive, pleasing, and would make them want to eat at McDonalds.

    But thanks for confirming that you find them in bad taste too. I was beginning to think I was imagining my out outrage.

  6. I’m sorry, but the way you are talking about this is not right.

    Racism is not to stereo type a person, nor to make them look how ‘you’ feel they look or act.

    Racism is to hate or dislike another race because they are different.

    Mcdonalds may be presumptuous and ignorant, but that doesnt mean racist. However, if this is their target market, and since I have noticed this trend in Mcdonalds ads for a long time, and they are getting positive response from it, maybe black people like to see dancing? maybe they like to see R&B or rap. Actually, they DO. The numbers and consistent barrage of ads prove it. Mcdonalds would not persist in these types of ads if they didnt work.

  7. @JonathanJB,

    I do believe that we all are adults here and judging by the punctuation used in the previous quotes… No one is a dummy here. So the need to reiterate the meaning of “Racism” is NOT needed. I do believe that no matter what kind of business you run (whether it’s a mom-and-pop store or the biggest Corporation in America), you are always going to have people who are dissatisfied.

    Now, back to the-matter at hand. When we as African-Americans, say it is racism… that’s EXACTLY what we mean. Just for YOUR knowledge, here is the ACTUAL defintion of racism;

    Main Entry: rac·ism
    Pronunciation: \?r?-?si-z?m also -?shi-\
    Function: noun
    Date: 1933

    1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
    2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

    Do you see that? It says; “A belief that a race is the PRIMARY DETERMINANT of human traits”.

    Now let’s go back to these commercials. It is utterly ridiculous, misjudging, and very offensive to ANY African-American who has sense.

    You don’t think it’s racist to have a black man imitating or portraying to be a R&B artist singing for McDonalds? You see… For me when I see this, I see America trying to use the Urban Community (R&b, Rap, Hip-Hop etc.)to sell their product because they know how much of an impact/influence music has on the “Urban Community”. Now in that same sense, you’re generating all of this money off of my people but how much of that revenue is REALLY being put back into the community? The same community that is so poor and chastised for it’s crime, poverty, and lack-of-intelligence but you still somehow seem to profit off of us. Almost every time you go in McDonalds, they’re always taking up an offer for “Jerry’s Kids, Red Cross, and such” but when have you seen a donation box for Katrina Victims? I’ll tell you when… NEVER and never will. These people are making all of this money off of these “hoods” (or ghettos, as some like to call it) but these are the same people, who wouldn’t DARE step into these same neighborhoods that keep their company afloat. Basically, they’re good enough to take our money and throw us in 1-minute videos to create a sales flow but not good enough to dare inquire about. It’s a lot deeper than “Just a video”. I am mixed with damn-near everything possible and I am in no way, shape, or form prejudice. I do see that sometimes we as people blow things out of proportion but this is one where; “The grass is definitely greener on the other side”. It’s easy to speak what you don’t know when you are ignorant of a situation. This, (In my opinion) just happens to be one of those times.

  8. I thought Red Cross was helping with Katrina victims and now Haiti. So I guess they do give back to the community. Do black children not get muscular dystrophy? Should our children find it offensive that when advertising happy meals, mcdonal’s children playing to children’s music? Maybe it is overkill, but why wouldn’t you advertise food with hip hop, if that specific group generally like it?

  9. MCDONALDS IS RACIST AGAINST WHITES IF ANYTHING. ever heard of their 365 black idea? google it. blacks get a month. they’re own tv network, own beauty pageants… and now apparenttly get celebrated 365 days a year at mcdonalds. This is racist to me. if whites had their own tv network, website about being celebrated, and DEFINITLEY their own month to celebrate, blacks would call racist and that wouldnt fly. watch the 2010 mcdonads advertisements… all blacks. & if there is a white person they make them look ridiculously ignorant/stupid. but apparently “people can only be racist against blacks” yeah. whats wrong with this world..

  10. Whites already have their own tv network. It’s every other channel except BET (and Univision and Telemundo). White History month is every month.

    Why do white people complain so much about BET? No one complains about men’s channels like SPIKE or women’s channel like Lifetime. You know white people you’re allowed to watch BET too. The police won’t come knocking at your door if you watch it you know.

  11. Wow, since when did spike become a white channel? Lifetime too? this is so silly. Do yourself a favor, look at all of the Mcdonalds ads… the only one with a white guy, or any other race for that matter is the insufferable prick that can’t be bothered with the rest of the world, until he gets his crappy cup of swamp water…grow up, see the light, and move on

  12. I am so tired of this crap. Why not find out who writes these commercials…I would be seriously surprised if it were not both white and black and asian men and women. Maybe, just maybe if we all dropped these idiotic hang-ups race would become a non-issue.

  13. Shayla–I couldn’t agree more. All the commercials I have seen this year portray blacks stereotypically and demean whites. And Kam–quit being so ignorant. The point here is that McDonald’s commercials disproportionately portray blacks. I am a white female and wonder why McDonald’s puts so much effort into recruiting black customers. Chanelle makes a good point…

  14. Racism is to hate or dislike another race because they are different. was said best in a previous post. the commercial in question that I saw is the did you hear about sully? two professional black guys talking about this guy sully who got a promotion, and they are civil to eachother. then a white guy comes up and says did you hear about sully and one of the black guys mocks him in a snide voice, “hear about sully?” I am usually am not this sensitive, but this strikes a nerve. it is un-called for. they could have faded to black as they are civil with the white guy. in my eyes that would show unity, and solidarity.

  15. MacDonald’s is not Racist. Your president and his wife are though. Blacks are never satisfied. You either have too many of them or not enough. I say SCREW them. Where I’m from, Placerville, CA. they have mostly Hispanics working in MacDonald’s. A lot of mistakes are made with the orders. I don’t envy anyone who owns a business that has to hire people who don’t have 1/2 a brain. They all should have to be drug tested. This would open up a lot of jobs for people that would appreciate having a job and do it to the best of their ability. This country is failing and it’s because of ignorance and non-caring. Concerned AMERICAN, L. Velasco yes, I am Hispanic

  16. guys, i sometimes go to mcdonalds, barely any blacks in there…mostly fat white (or old) people or hispanics.

    They are targeting the race that they’re trying to acquire…blacks (lack there of)

    its not racism, its smart marketing.

  17. I’m white, and many would consider me rackst, but this stream of conscious crap is some of the filthiest and most worthless reading I’ve ever seen. First, because you portray particular races of people doing certain things, it does t mean you hate other races than your your own. Isnt that what we want “racist” to mean? I mean, white kids don’t double Dutch like that, and black people aren’t CEOs and board members. Let’s not kid ourselves. No race can identify with 12 of their own in a car in a commercial except mexicans.

  18. Pingback: McDonald’s New Mascot is the Jar Jar Binks of Fast Food | BelchSpeak

  19. Racism is not necessarily “hating other races. It’s having a view that other races are inferior in speech, intelligence, or social standing. The latest McDonald’s commercial is another racist commercial. It assumes a young black man who gets his college acceptance letter has no one in his life to share his joy with other than his manager at McDonalds. Doesn’t this young man have family or friends in his life? I guess only white workers have parents at home to give good news to. In short black people are portrayed completely differently than white people on McDonald’s commercials. It’s disturbing.

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