Recently McDonald’s started promoting the new Southern Style Chicken Sandwich with their usual “I’m lovin’ it” motto attached to their advertisements. I wish I could agree because what I was not “lovin'” about the promotion of this sandwich were the racial stereotypes clearly exploited in the commercials.
In the first commercial in the series of advertisements for the sandwich, comprised of well-seasoned chicken, pickles and a buttery bun, two African-American individuals are sitting in a McDonald’s restaurant raving about how the Southern Style Chicken Sandwich reminds them of their grandma’s “southern-fried chicken.”
The commercial ends with the two individuals walking out of the restaurant and running into their grandma who has just purchased what? A Southern Style Chicken Sandwich of course.
Some may be questioning what is so offensive about this formula. To some, this may sound like an average commercial promoting a food product, but watching it, as an African-American, I was incredibly offended.
In my eyes, this sandwich commercial feeds into stereotypes of African-Americans. I felt it was ironic that the first commercial released promoting the sandwich starred African-Americans who happen to also reference their grandma’s southern-fried chicken, almost as if they were saying, “Well if the black people love it, it has to sell.”
It made me feel like those in charge of advertising for the McDonald’s Corporation assumed that their African-American consumers were the only people who ate southern-style chicken and also played directly into the stereotype of how much African-American people love fried chicken, something that, while on an individual basis may be true, is not a fair representation of all African-Americans. And the advertisements I have seen that followed this one only featured actors of color.
The perception I get from this series of commercials is that the McDonald’s Corporation believes that only people of color consume fried chicken in general; another stereotype I feel they have played into to sell sandwiches.
To McDonald’s credit, I think it’s great that the corporation is even attempting to more fully represent the wider spectrum of race and culture, but when they’re representing their minority consumers in such a completely inaccurate manner, how is that going to improve the sales of their products?
This series of advertisements for the Southern Style Chicken Sandwich has served as another reminder to me that when it comes to selling products to the public, people of color are still horribly misrepresented.
There was a time when minorities were not represented at all in television and print advertisements and I am not discounting the efforts of present-day corporations to include them.
If I am going to be so inaccurately and ignorantly portrayed as an African-American or as a person of color, however, I’d rather not be represented at all.