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#PRFail: McDonald's Makes More Angry Meals with 365Black.com
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Last year sucked a little for McDonald's. In fact, it sucked much. How? The corporate baron stuck its size-18 clown foot smooth in its golden arches by creating the McResources hotline to teach its employees how to live in poverty and then shut it down two months later because they wanted to keep it classy. The problem for the Clown is 2014 isn't becoming such a banner year either. McDonald's has been voted the worst company in America (yes, already), served happy meals with a side of heroin, and had a franchisee force its employees to work 25-hour shifts

And now, they have created 365Black.com with very mixed (and vitriolic) reviews. Bah-dah-bah-bop-bah ... not lovin' this. 

While this may seem like a good idea, because the thought of having Black History Month (instead of desiring that knowledge all year) can rub some people the wrong way for good reason, the idea of the Clown catering to one demographic angered a few — million — people. It was a commercial during the Oscars featuring a young professional with two bags of McDonald's (I guess the brother was really hungry). He goes to his apartment and gives the doorman a bag because that looks good on camera. According to an insightful article by Digiday, people weren't sure if the website 365Black.com was a joke, spoof, or just more of the same stupidity from Mickey D's. It's real all right, and so are the mixed reviews among a mixed collection of people via Twitter. For example: 

@grantshaida McDonalds 365Black campaign is the most racist thing I have ever heard

@ivygirl Ok wait #365black.com... during the #Oscars... For McDonald's?? I'm so confused? Is that like a dating site, black history month is over.

@StubbyStan Should I be mad @ the McDonald's ad featuring black people, an R&B soundtrack & the website http://t.co/aer6wFNFm5? #Oscars2014

@MarksTweetss I can't believe 365Black.com is a real site. Black people will buy your food regardless @McDonalds .....why???

@therealaaronmom Why does mcdonalds think they know black people so well. 365Black.com

This website has inspired a very offensive changeling Twitter account, several angst-filled blog posts, and even a petition (dated in 2010 because some ideas never die). 

Here's the conundrum: McDonald's is trying to celebrate an entire group of people for all people to appreciate. The idea behind 365Black.com is a venue to exhibit some corporate social responsibility. To wit, they get hammered with hate mail, hate social, and more hate, hate, hate. Was it worth the outcry? One person brings up a salient point as to why the outcry is so fierce — placating to poor people and fast food. 

“McDonald’s direct marketing to African Americans has always troubled me, largely because so many African Americans live in urban areas surrounded by fast food restaurants and with limited access to fresh produce and unprocessed food,” said Imani Perry, professor at Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies. “It seemed to add insult to injury to present this business as having any investment or interest in African American history and culture.”

I get that. And remember the McResources hotline? Read the story. The hotline also asked its own employees to try not to eat fast food —  as in the food they get for free by working at McDonald's. While this campaign may be adorned for all the right reasons, it seems there is subterfuge for the wrong ones. Is this a celebration of black people or a celebration of catering to the key demographic that keeps the Clown in business? No one on the outside can really know, but it seems people have some ideas. 

Are you lovin' it now? 


   

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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