McDonald’s publicly condemns systemic oppression in its new, powerful ad. The restaurant brand released a silent 60-second ad featuring the names of seven black people killed by police or others in recent years, including Trayvon Martin, Botham Jean, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Attiana Jefferson, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. Using McDonald’s signature yellow color as the background, the ad goes on to state “He was one of us. She was one of us. They were all one of us.” before ending with a black screen stating “Black Lives Matter”. The ad includes McDonald’s renouncement of racism and its pledge to donate to the National Urban League and the NAACP.
McDonald’s ad communicates its support of protestors across the nation, marching against racism and inequality in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in May. As social media has become a scene for unification during current events—such as Blackout Tuesday—it makes sense that McDonald’s rolled out its new ad on Instagram and Twitter, the latter serving as a primary social listening tool for brands, according to a Gartner report. McDonald’s joins other companies, including Slack and Nike, that have recently used their platforms to denounce racism and publicly donate to charities helping protestors and black communities. Nike’s ad—which was one of the first showing support from a widely recognized brand—has received largely positive reviews from the public, so it’s possible that McDonald’s new ad could also resonate well with viewers. However, recent strikes by employees demanding protections during the Coronavirus pandemic, and not specifying the number of donations going to the National Urban League and NAACP could affect how consumers perceive McDonald’s efforts.
With restaurants in 118 countries, including 14,000 locations in the U.S., McDonald’s reaches a large audience. Using its platform to speak out boldly against racism and systemic oppression could shake up learned attitudes around the world and inspire other large brands to publicly join the movement too.