McDonald’s CEO Responds To Critics Who Say The Company Targets People Of Color

May 24, 2013  |  

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. Image: Kerstin Joensson/AP Images for McDonald’s

McDonald’s held its annual shareholders meeting yesterday and was met with harsh criticism from a few different sides. It’s not a new charge, but some in attendance have a problem with the restaurant chain’s marketing, alleging that it targets minorities and children. One organization, Corporate Accountability International (CAI), went so far as to, once again, suggest that McDonald’s take a closer look at its impact on public health.

“The way you describe us is not who we are,” Ad Age quotes CEO Don Thompson.

One woman, Michelle Dyre, an African-American woman who described herself as a millennial and a former intern with CAI, really called out McD’s.

“Children of color are already more likely to live in environments where healthy food is less available. That they are more likely to develop diet-related diseases than their white counterparts should be no surprise considering how McDonald’s overwhelmingly targets them with predatory marketing,” she said.

Thompson, who is clearly also black, responded pointedly. “I grew up in the neighborhood,” noting his own low-income upbringing, which made even McDonald’s cost-prohibitive. “[T]he epidemic of obesity is not about McDonald’s.” He went on to highlight healthy options on the chain’s menu and reminded the audience that Ronald McDonald has not been in the company’s ads for a while.

Another critic was nine-year-old Hannah Robertson, whose mother is a food activist. “I don’t think it’s fair when big companies try to trick kids into eating food. It isn’t fair that so many kids my age are getting sick,” USA Today quotes her saying.

“We don’t sell junk food,” Thompson responded. “My kids also eat McDonald’s.”

Do you think McDonald’s needs to change its strategy for marketing to children and communities of color?

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  • &/

    They have some healthy options, real fruit smoothies, salads, the new mcwraps and on their site they have food under 400 calories plus the nutrition facts. I believe it is up to the individual to research how many calories are in their food and inspect the menu or ask before buying. That way they won’t go over the recommended calories for the day.

  • SheBe

    Is it the marketing that’s to blame or is it the choices made by the consumer? I will take the latter. No one forces you to choose to eat McDonalds. I’m so tired of us pulling out the minority card on issues that are simply about poor choices. If you are a low income family then fast food is not the money saving choice. When you go to the grocery store with that EBT card or your budget in mind, don’t leave the front of the store. ALL the food you need is usually there (except for eggs, meat, & milk in some stores). Your vegetables and bread are all in the front. Cook for the week; or a few days at least. Plant your own garden. These things take a little time out of your schedule but you will save time and money elsewhere also. All about choices.

  • Melody Carroll

    yes they do there food is to high and it dont taste good anymore those fish bites were terrible

  • Sam ragan

    my son ate at mcdonalds at least 3 times a week and we did the was a cheap fast meal that the two of us would share..I would get a extra cup and split the this day he is thin and never overeates.I would never spend money on cookies, chips, soda or junk food, also I am always on a budget so we seldom have meat..carrots and peppers are the snack of choice

  • Fresh45

    I definitely feel like McDonalds targets minorities,especially black minorities. I noticed 2yrs ago that in majority of their commercials, are black people. They still do it today. Considering that black people have the highest rate of obesity, I thought it was crazy how they were using mostly black people to advertise their product. It makes it seem like only black people eat McDonalds.