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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