Don Wildmon, the American Family Association’s director, will periodically declare war on some company or other (usually for undecipherable reasons), get some coverage at WorldNetDaily, send out some fund letters, declare success! (again for undecipherable reasons) and move on to his next target. Back in 2008 the target was McDonald’s. It seems that McDonald’s contributed to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce which meant, somehow, that the company was “endorsing the homosexual agenda”.
When the company’s employee who was on the board of NGLCC moved out of the country, AFA declared victory.
A corporate executive for McDonald’s restaurants who had been on board of directors of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has stepped down following a boycott of the chain organized by the pro-family American Family Association.
McDonald’s officials confirmed today to WND that Richard Ellis, who had been named to the “gay” chamber board after McDonald’s contributed $20,000 to the organization, “made a personal decision to step down” after he accepted a new position with McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada.
At the time, I wrote this off as coincidental. But perhaps the AFA had more of an impact on McDonald’s than I thought. Or, as new information suggests, perhaps AFA’s message found a sympathetic ear at McDonald’s.
Now a new issue has arisen to get anti-gays into a dither, and McDonald’s response is disturbing. It involves a McDonald’s advertisement which ran on French television.
This charming ad – part of a larger campaign welcoming everyone to come as they are – is not offensive. It is not sexual or provocative or inappropriate. But to those who oppose the existence of gay people, the idea of welcoming gay youth “as they are” is an indication of an insidious homosexual agenda.
And McDonald’s has made it very clear that such a message will not be part of their US marketing.
Lisa Howards, McDonalds’s director of corporate media relations, told Media Matters that the “Come as You Are” campaign was made exclusively for France.
“The ad you’re referencing is one of a series of ads called “Come as You Are,” which recognized he diversity of McDonald’s customers in France. This particular commercial was produced by McDonald’s France and is running only in France,” Howards said in the statement. “Each of our 117 markets around the world determines their own advertising and marketing.”
Companies like McDonald’s have complicated multi-year advertising strategies that include corporate image, message, and theme and I certainly have no expectation that McDonald’s target-market specifically to the gay community. But there is a difference between less narrow marketing and a strategy that specifically excludes gay customers.
And now Don Thompson, McDonald’s new President and Chief Operating Officer, has made it very clear in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that this ad was a “mistake” and that McDonald’s will not market to gay customers. His religion doesn’t approve of gay people.
Tribune: A French TV ad featuring a gay teen and his father has stirred some controversy — not there, but here. Can you talk about that?
Thompson: It is an example that markets, cultures are very different around the world. (For instance), I’ve never shied away from the fact that I’m a Christian. I have my own personal beliefs and I don’t impose those on anybody else. I’ve been in countries where the majority of the people in the country don’t believe in a deity or they may be atheist. Or the majority of the country is Muslim. Or it may be the majority is much younger skewed. So when you look at all these differences, it’s not that I’m to be the judge or the jury relative to right or wrong. Having said that, at McDonald’s, there are core values we stand for and the world is getting much closer. So we have a lot of conversations. We’re going to make some mistakes at times. (We talk) about things that may have an implication in one part of the world and may be the cultural norm in another part of the world. And those are things that, yes, we’re going to learn from. But, you’re right, that commercial won’t show in the United States.
Tribune: How has it done in France?
Thompson: Interestingly enough, there have been no negatives coming out of France. The brand is a local brand and different things will occur in different parts of the world. We just have to make sure that we understand the impact one action may make on another part of the world.
So I guess McDonald’s “core values” do not include marketing to gay youth. Others should come as they are, but there won’t be any marketing to gay people in the United States. In fact, he seems to be saying that there will not be any more marketing to gay people anywhere from now on. It might “have an implication.”
When AFA came calling, Don Thompson was President of McDonald’s USA and there were “things he learned”. I fear that what he learned was that he now has an excuse for implementing his own bigotries and biases. He’s not “imposing on anyone,” he’s just upholding “core values.”
But perhaps McDonald’s has more to learn. Perhaps they need to discover that America’s youth do not share “core values” with the AFA or with Don Thompson.
And McDonald’s certainly doesn’t share “core values” with me.