McDonald’s partnership with Cardi B and Offset for their promotional Valentine’s Day meal has drawn criticism from several franchisees. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the collaboration has been accused of breaking the brand’s Golden Arches Code due to the couple’s lyrics and lifestyle.
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Several McDonald’s store owners have voiced their disagreement over the company’s alignment with Cardi B and Offset, with some removing advertising and merchandise associated with the promotion. Those owners have urged other franchisees to consider doing the same, arguing that the couple’s image doesn’t mirror McDonald’s family-friendly values.
WSJ reports that the brand’s Golden Arches Code for marketing states that promotions and branding shouldn’t include “musical partnerships associated with content that includes offensive language in the lyrics.” The majority of the complaints came from franchisee owners with restaurants operating in the Southeastern and mid-Atlantic regions, according to the report. Representatives for Cardi B and Offset have not issued a statement in response to the backlash.
McDonalds introduced its star-powered collaborations in 2020, beginning with Travis Scott becoming the first celebrity to be featured on its menu in nearly 30 years, the last being Michael Jordan in 1992. However, while McDonald’s executives state that the collaborations have increased the company’s earnings and generated excitement and brand interest among consumers, franchisees have not been on board with the star-driven promotions.
Surveys say sixty-five percent of U.S. franchisees said they didn’t support the Travis Scott collaboration when it was announced, despite helping the company to drive more online orders and app downloads. “Nothing had a greater impact on our digital business than the introduction of this program last year,” McDonald’s U.S. president Joe Erlinger said on a 2021 investor call.
According to McDonald’s executives, disgruntled franchisees will not stop the brand from continuing to pursue collaborations with other stars, as it continues its focus on increasing its consumer base and sustaining its popularity with the youth and young adults. “Across our marketing, we’re focused on putting McDonald’s at the center of culture,” McDonald’s U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Tariq Hassan told WSJ.
In addition to Cardi B, Offset, and Travis Scott, other music stars McDonald’s has recently partnered up with include BTS, Saweetie, and J Balvin. Cardi, who recently popped up with Offset at the Times Square McDonald’s launch of their meal, spoke with Billboard about balancing the pressure that comes with brand collaborations and advertisements with their personal lives.
“Every single time that the Super Bowl comes around, I get a little bit emotional,” the Bronx native expressed. “We do have projects to put out this year, and our careers [are] very important to us… and then balancing things out with our careers and our personal lives, you know what I’m saying? Our children and stuff. We just being grownups. It’s not easy being grownups.”