Monday, April 27, 2009

Racist Advertising?

Although the two young African Americans in a dark setting romanticizing about the great chicken nuggets is extremely wrong for a number of reasons, one aspect is it tries to appeal to the assumed average African American. In this advertisement, there are many visual characteristics that are directed towards racial profiling of the black population. First, there is the obvious attractive black man and woman each embracing the stereotypical outfits with the baggy jeans, undershirt with a button down, clingy dress and both are decked out in their “bling.” The beginning of the commercial shows the man standing outside in the rain at night with a hat on pulled down over his eyes. Just as he says the word “creepin,” he is actually embracing the idea of a creeper. The surroundings of the building and street only add to the supposed area of their consumers. They imply that the area is not the best part of town, possibly the ghetto. When the location changes to a bedroom, it has very similar qualities of a hotel room. This could even attribute to the idea of a one night stand. It may have been the R&B soul singing of the man that gave off that impression. The sensual vibe from his voice and the sexual lyrics fuel the supposed idea of R&B as being a black genre of music historically and in the present.

After viewing the commercial for yourself, you probably picked up on these same auditory and visual characteristics in the advertisement. What do you think McDonalds advertising campaign was trying to do with this commercial? Are they trying to captivate an economic class by appealing to the stereotypical aspects of the African American race? In our economically difficult time, McDonalds could have been trying to boost their sales. It has been researched and shown that African Americans are the number one consumers of the McDonalds food. Or, is it racial profiling to adjust a commercial to appeal to a certain race? In our politically correct world, is this form of advertisement acceptable or racist?

There are the occasions I do enjoy a McDonalds run, but I do not consider the restaurant some place I would go dressed up with my significant other for dinner. It is usually to grab something quick and cheap. I would not want to be associated with what it entails to be part of the McDonalds crowd, and I can’t think of a lot of people that do. Would this be considered a white privilege to not be associated with the presumed and advertised McDonalds fast food goers? I feel that not being targeted as a consumer is a way of discarding that race as a possible option. What do you think when you see commercials advertising to a specific race? And is it even a possibility to incorporate everyone without racial profiling?


  1. I agree that the ad is clearly aimed at African-American consumers, and can be called racist if one has a broader conception of racism, like Frantz Fanon does.

    But I have to respectfully disagree with your interpretation of the ad. First, both the male and female in the ad don't readily fall under the stereotype of poor African-Americans from the 'ghetto.' The woman drives a luxury SUV, and both are wearing expensive outfits.

    The guy isn't decked out in "bling" either. The only "ice" he's wearing is two small diamond studs in his ears, and he is wearing a wedding ring. The girl has on some bigger hooped golden earrings and bracelets, but that's .Also, ad's indoor settings reminds me much more a rich California flat than a hotel room. Both of those facts, to me, significantly undermine the "one night stand" reading.

    Also, the ad itself strikes me as self-consciously ironic. The guy suspects her of "creeping out" and seeing other men, only she is going out to grab some McNuggets. At the end, the girl's flirty refusal to share her nuggets with her boyfriend/husband, in the context of the ad, looks like a send up of the stereotype that all a guy needs to do to get a girl to melt and give him what he wants is to sing a sensual, soulful song. Or, the ad could be a kind of parody of how a lot of popular music can have lyrics about basically nothing, so long as it sounds good.

  2. After taking a while to calm down from my intitial reaction to this post I finally had to make a comment.Almost every aspect of this commercial that you pointed out as being a stereotype was wrong in my opinion. You first talked about the clothing of the man and woman. Nothing that the guy had on was race specific. I have seen countless men, white and black, wear an outfit that looked very similar to his. It is a style. It seems to me that you are doing all of the stereotyping. If the clothes the guy in the commersial had on were stereotypical would it had been less stereotypical if he had on a polo shirt, more fitted jeans, and a pair birkenstocks? And what about this commercial indicates a ghetto? Just to clarify a ghetto is not a low income housing area. A ghetto is a community of people of the same ethnic, racial, or cultural background living together in a certain area. Why is the word "ghetto" only refrenced when talking about black people? Chinatown is technically a ghetto as well but no one ever describes it that way. I believe the proper characterization would have been a housing project or section 8, which he was clearly no where near. As Blake said the bedroom is clearly not a hotel room but a residence. Also the hat and creeper thing is ridiculous. You completely misinterpreted the entire commercial. I do see the connection between black people and chicken and the R&B vibe but those are the only racially pointed thing I can find in this ad.

  3. This was the first time I had seen the ad, and I initially interpreted it as an innocent parody poking fun at music videos. Not to belabor the point, but I do agree with BBlake and JJohnson. I don’t think the ad, in and of itself, is necessarily an appeal to a lower socioeconomic class. True, frequent McDonald’s customers tend to be in a lower economic bracket, and I think you’re right when you say, “I would not want to be associated with what it entails to be part of the McDonald’s crowd, and I can’t think of a lot of people who do.”

    Following your argument, if the typical McDonald’s customer is living on a pretty tight budget, and it is a social stigma to be perceived as a McDonald’s frequenter, then why would McDonald’s target such people? They’re already set customers. The purpose of an advertisement is to pull in a new audience, or else the commercial is a waste of money. Both of the actors in the ad are thin and attractive, and I wonder if anyone else has noticed that McDonald’s seems to be making an effort to appear classier (Starbucks-like?) and move away from its reputation as a grungy, fast-food joint.

  4. Targeted advertising is not necessarily racist, particularly since this ad does not play on racial stereotypes. They've just inserted their product into an R&B music video to say that McNuggets can be a classy late night snack. They're not classy, but when it's late and you're hungry they gain a bit of class. I just see this ad as the late night snack with your loved one and they're trying to make it look acceptable for even for a mansion. (Yes, that place you thought was a hotel is actually a posh house with a grand piano in the bedroom in case the artist wakes up with a song in mind.) The only thing that makes this ad strange is the dressing up of the McNuggets. But like I said before, after all of the other food joints close, McNuggets gain some desirability.

    The ad is certainly targeted at R&B fans, particularly fans of that artist. But that doesn't make it racist. If I were one of his fans, I would certainly think about sharing some late-night McNuggets with my significant other.

  5. From reading your posts, I don't think I made my point clear, and I am so sorry. I can see that I made some racial presumptions that I did NOT intend to do. After doing some research on it, I think I got a little caught up from the articles I had read about McDonalds specifically advertising to the African American population and somewhere in there drew off that claim to parallel the advertisement. I want to apologize for it coming off with disrespect to you all. All these English classes and papers, I feel like I have started to take small things with no meaning and try to put some meaning to them. In doing that, I should stick to English and not philosophy. The point that I did not make clearly and was clouded by my over analysis of the commercial was if it was ok for advertisements to be directed to a specific "race," especially when it is for their economic benefit. I'm genuinely sorry if this came across wrong. I was caught up in the research and articles I had found and tried to make the assumption this would relate. My apologies. -Courtney

  6. I think this advertisement is clearly racial. That is, there is group that McDonald's has targeted. In this case that targeted group is African American. While it is racial, I don't see any inherent racIST advertising here. Is it portraying negetive stereotypes?

  7. I am siding with the others on this one, but I do not feel you have to apologize. There are cultural misunderstandings between all six of us, regardless of our race. We will deal with that. And as stated I do not agree with your analysis (I find myself most akin to Shannon's), but I do understand what you were trying to do, no apologies necessary. And, Jasmine, high-five on the Chinatown comment. It is indeed a ghetto, but to answer your inquiry as to why no one refers to it as such - I believe most Americans find Chinatown to be an exotic location because to them it is foreign and colorful. Do not misunderstand me: simply put, typical Americans (and I am generalizing here) have more exposure to black Americans (both in media and in daily life) than that of asian Americans. So if they come to one of our ghettos, they may not quite understand that it is indeed a ghetto. I hope this is satisfactory to you.


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