Before trying to get the hip-hop elite on board, McDonald’s should have realised that fast food isn’t cool
The marketing boys at McDonald’s must have been lovin’ it when they came up with what must have seemed to them like a great PR stunt back in March.
As part of their ongoing strategy to fatten up young people – no, sorry, that’s not true at all – as part of their ongoing strategy to increase their profits from young people, they came up with the brilliant idea of getting rappers to promote their burgers. Not in ads, you understand, but actually in their songs. Hard to believe, I know, but that’s what they had in mind.
And they were willing to pay for it. In a twist on the kind of product placement now commonplace in movies, they were hoping that some of hip-hop’s finest might be persuaded to mention the Big Mac in their rhymes. In return, they said, they would pay them up to $5 (£2.84) for every time it was played on the radio.
That was last March. So it’s no surprise to find that, six months later, the charts have yet to be filled with the sound of Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg extolling the virtues of greasy fried food. While some rappers may be more than happy to name-check Bentley, Gucci and the fine range of weaponry made by Heckler & Koch in exchange for a discount on an armour-plated limousine, some shiny new bling and a fully loaded semi-automatic, they’re not so keen to endorse greasy fried food from a white multinational corporation.
McDonald’s finally admitted this week that they have not had to pay out one red cent, let alone 50, to rappers in exchange for a tribute to the Big Mac.
“We have not identified the right opportunity, muthafucka,” said a spokesman (apart from the last bit, obviously), adding: “We have not yet identified the match that we’ve been looking for.”
Nor, they confessed, have they yet launched their new range of “hip street-wear uniforms” designed “with input from” such raptastic names as Russell Simmons’ Phat Farm, Sean “P Diddy” Combs’ Sean John, Tommy Hilfiger, Fubu and American Apparel. In short, the marriage of white corporation and black street culture has dissolved before it was consummated.
Because it was never a great PR stunt. It was based on the idea that it would give McDonald’s some credibility among the youth market. But, being a predominantly white, suit-and-tie kind of corporation, they forgot to look at it from the rapper’s point of view. They forgot that it’s not cool for a rapper, whose career depends on “keeping it real” to sell his soul to a white multinational corporation. Even if it is their preferred breakfast, lunch and dinner of choice (and I’m reliably informed that the average US rapper keeps it real by maintaining a strict fast-food diet – particularly in the case of the late, great and self-evidently fat Notorious BIG).
So while it got them a lot of publicity at the time, it was a bad idea because they were never going to be able to follow through. And it doesn’t help that Mac rhymes with “whack” (which, as anyone remotely familiar with the lexicon of rap will tell you, means “crap”). Oh yes, and “heart attack