In what is clearly the bizarro, socioethinc, non-PC moment of the week, McDonald’s has launched an oddly transparent website aimed to bring more black people into the McDonald’s crew. 365Black is a programme aimed at inspiring Black folks by celebrating the culture and heritage of African Americans … and McDonald’s. From their homepage:
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 365Black.com. 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.
Wait, huh? There’s two main points of WTF at work here. First, since when does McDonald’s have anything to say about race? As the lowest common denominator of American fast food, I’d like to think that people of all walks of life can stuff their face with greasy crap. There’s something for everyone. White folks can eat salad, hispanics can get burgers, and black people can eat chicken nuggets … or something. Right? For a company that remains rather sterile regarding cultural brand aspects, I don’t see why they’re getting their hands dirty here in the ever-hot waters of race in America. Is this the Obama halo effect? Or are the numbers actually telling the bean counters at McD’s corporate that maybe it’s time to blacken up a bit. As if “I’m lovin’ it” wasn’t hip enough.
Second, and perhaps this is my slanted East coast view, but McDonald’s is already pretty damn black! We’re not dealing with Bennigan’s here, there are plenty of black people eating and working at McDonald’s locations. In fact, if you’re visiting a McDonald’s in a semi-diverse region, chances are that most, if not all, of the employees will be black. It’s that old argument about socioeconomics and keeping the brothers down and that. Advertising has been made, for all media, aimed at black people, and they have a healthily diverse customer base. I don’t see why they’re bending over backwards to cater to any specific ethnic group when in fact they’re doing a good job of getting the full rainbow of people into their restaurants.
McDonald’s, my dear friends, I love your 42¢ ice cream cones, but I don’t need you to be stirring up the hornets’ nest of race and culture in America. Stick to what you do, sell hamburgers. You’re a fast food chain, not the great communicators of our age. Even brands like Coke, which also spend gazillions of dollars on advertising globally, are not the ones to start talking about race. Instead, I’d leave that to brands which focus on people. Maybe Nike would be a good candidate for that, or The Men’s Wearhouse, or some insurance or real estate company. Some brands focus on the product, and not the people. Sorry.
In spite of the non-PC tone of this post, I assure you that I do indeed love people of every colour. As a Puerto Rican Jew, I enjoy the patchwork heritage of our day-to-day, and living in the New York City area gives me plenty of ammo for race-fueled fun. Right here on my street is a Cuban restaurant right next to a Polish deli. There’s even a McDonald’s. Everyone goes there.
Does anyone else think it’s ironic, and not exactly cool, to spell the word “Achiever” using a graffiti font? I mean, is this the best that black people are known for. Clearly, this site was designed by scrawny Jewish art-school rejects, led by an overzealous MBA from, say, India.