Wednesday, November 12, 2014

McDonalds targeting Black children, What?


A recent study has shown that fast food chains such as McDonalds, are 60% more likely to advertise to children in black neighborhoods than primarily white neighborhoods.

While it is no secret that fast food isn't particularly good for anyone, fast-food chains have much more success billing their product to low income families and, through the use of toys, children.

This study, while admittedly just a single study, has found found links between the use of these toys and kid's meals to target kids, and the racial makeup of the places in which this marketing is used.

A while back, McDonalds of India announced that they would supply books instead of toys for two months out of the year for the next three years.  While this seems to be a step in the right direction as far as educational value, I don't see this as fixing any of the corrupt marketing practices that target our youth and in the long run harm their health.

How do you react to this correlation between race and child marketing?  Do you think it is an intentionally race-based marketing technique?  Or is it just a function of trial and error for marketing at the local level?
Either way, should fast food chains be able to use such marketing tactics to focus on children?
Does the use of books as toys solve this problem? Make it worse? Somewhere in-between?


Spencer said...

This is quite a fascinating story but it doesn't surprise me. Who is more likely to eat at McDonalds: a low-income family or a rich, white family who belongs to a country club in Beverly Hills? By answering their own question, McDonalds would of course be trying to promote their product out to the most likely of consumers-in this case they chose to specify so much so that they chose black children. They are trying to get the most out of their brand and have to advertise more to these groups. Thus, this is an intentional marketing technique that is racially biased and is not just a function of "trial and error." Books as toys won't solve the problem because the kids are stil consuming the same product: Mcdonalds Happy Meals! Unless legislation is passed to limit their marketing tactics, McDonalds will focus to continue to try and persuade customers who fit such criteria to eat their food.

Andros Petrakis said...

I agree with Spencer on multiple counts. This is definitely an example of racial and economic profiling. According to the National Center for children in Poverty, 64% of Black children are considered to be in the “Low-Income” class. 12.6% of the US population is African American (Wikipedia). That is a huge amount of low income children being exposed to advertisements of extremely cheap “delicious” food that comes with the benefit of a toy, and there is no reason a corporation would pass up the chance to make easy money from it. While books are a good substitute to toys, there is still the issue of extremely unhealthy food being available at such low prices. When low income families can only afford this garbage, that’s what they will buy, and their health will suffer because of it.

Ben Maison said...

I would argue that this is perhaps more a case of "institutional class-ism" more than it is of racism. It's not that they're necessarily targeting these neighborhoods because they're predominantly black, but because they fit the economic conditions in which fast food chains thrive, in other words, they're targeting the poor/lower-middle class instead of targeting people with darker skin because they know that they'll rely more on fast food.

From the article: "In a new study, a team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Arizona State University found that fast food chains in predominantly black neighborhoods were more than 60 percent more likely to advertise to children than in predominantly white neighborhoods. The researchers also found that fast food restaurants in middle- and low-income areas tended to direct their ads toward children more often than those in high-income."

I wonder how much overlap there is between the predominantly black neighborhoods and the neighborhoods on the lower end of the economic spectrum? This entire article seems like it's trying to avoid saying that there may be some overlap between the two and that McDonalds may advertise more to black children, not because they're black, but because they're in the economic status level of their main customer base.