Did McDonald's partner with Travis Scott and J Balvin to cover up lawsuits? Here's the truth behind allegations
The fast-food giant was accused of using both Travis Scott and J Balvin's value meal collaborations to distract people from two racial discrimination lawsuits the company is currently facing
Global icons Travis Scott and J Balvin have signed a massive deal with fast-food giant McDonald's by getting their own signature meals available across the US in September and October respectively. Travis and Balvin became the only celebs to join hands with McDonald's after former NBA Basketball champion Michael Jordan signed a deal with them way back in 1992.
The new deals with Travis and Balvin proved to be profitable for the fast-food brand as they reportedly witnessed a surge in sales. All was going well until the brand was accused of using both Scott and Balvin's value meal collaborations to distract people from two racial discrimination lawsuits the company is currently facing, according to a report by Vice.
According to HipHopDX, the first lawsuit was filed by two former executives at McDonald's who have claimed that the company "conducted a ruthless purge" of its Black leaders while creating a "hostile and abusive work environment" for Black executives and franchise owners. The second lawsuit was filed by a group of 52 Black franchise owners who claimed that the American fast-food company subjected them to "systematic and covert racial discrimination" over multiple decades.
The group claimed that McDonald's forced them into opening locations in "low-income, high-crime areas, where sales were lower than the nationwide average, operating costs were higher and employee turnover was rampant." The lawsuit further stated that they also alleged Black franchisees were "given less financial support and harsher internal reviews than their white counterparts" and if they complained, they faced retaliation.
The F&B giant had released a video in June on their official Twitter account where they condemned racism and police brutality. Showing their solidarity for the black community, they tweeted in June, "They were one of us: Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Alton Sterling. Botham Jean. Atatiana Jefferson. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd."
They were one of us:— McDonald's (@McDonalds) June 3, 2020
Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Alton Sterling. Botham Jean. Atatiana Jefferson. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd. pic.twitter.com/s1UhP5vncv
Vice also got in touch with historians Marcia Chatelain and Chin Jou, who have been keeping a sharp eye on McDonald’s complicated relationship with race in America.
Professor of history and African American studies at Georgetown University and author of 'Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America', Chatelain suggested that there is a correlation to the curiously-timed Scott collaboration.
Talking about the Travis and Balvin collaborations and the two lawsuits, according to a report by HipHopDX, she said, "I wonder if the decision to go forward with this collaboration was a response to not only criticism on the part of Black franchisees for their treatment within McDonald's system but the pressures they have been facing as a result of claims of racial discrimination at the corporate headquarters. This had probably set up a process of collaborating with Travis Scott if it didn’t necessarily inspire it."
Chatelain added, "There's no question that this is an attempt to try to shore up brand recognition and brand loyalty for McDonald's on the part of consumers of color. McDonald's knows that that market spends a lot of money on fast food, that that market is consuming fast food regularly and for multiple meals. They know where their restaurants are; they also know who has grown up eating McDonald's."
Chin Jou, who is a senior lecturer in American history at the University of Sydney and author of ‘Supersizing Urban America: How Inner Cities Got Fast Food With Government Help,’ said, “McDonald’s should be in the doghouse when it comes to African Americans right now. This Travis Scott juggernaut has been so successful at obfuscating other McDonald’s-related news items.”
McDonald’s was quick to deny all the allegations in their official statement as soon as they started facing the heat. According to Complex, their official statement read, "Any claim that McDonald's collaboration with Travis Scott was launched in response to recent litigation is completely false. We teamed up with Travis — and our newest celebrity partner, J Balvin — because of their love for the McDonald's brand, their widespread appeal and their loyal following among our younger customers and our crew."
The statement further said, "In regards to the litigation — these allegations fly in the face of everything we stand for as an organization and as a partner to communities and small business owners around the world. Not only do we categorically deny the allegations, but we are confident that the facts will show how committed we are to the diversity and equal opportunity of the McDonald's System, including across our franchisees, suppliers and employees."
Scott's McDonald’s signature meal ran from September 8 to October 4, 2020, whereas Balvin's deal began from October 5 and will run through November 1, 2020. Scott's $6 meal included a Quarter Pounder with cheese, bacon and lettuce, french fries with BBQ sauce dip and Sprite. Balvin's meal currently comes with a Big Mac, medium fries with ketchup and an Oreo McFlurry and the cost varies in different states.