Cardi B and Offset's McDonald's Meal Enrages 'Family Friendly' Franchise Owners

Cardi B and Offset's new McDonald's promotion has caused some backlash for the fast food company. The two rappers appeared in a Super Bowl commercial depicting a couple's meal earlier this month. Cardi B introduced a date-night meal bundle for two with the new campaign ad. During the NFL championship on Feb. 12, a commercial showed the entertainer and her partner, rapper Offset, reciting each other's favorite McDonald's orders. Two sandwiches are included in the meal, a cheeseburger and a Quarter Pounder with cheese fries, two drinks, and an apple pie. Store owners worry that associating a family-friendly restaurant chain with entertainers whose songs contain profanity and sexual content will harm the brand's reputation, Fortune reported. The franchisees claim that the partnership violates the chain's marketing guidelines for store owners and employees, called the Golden Arches Code. "Partnerships with celebrities and influencers that have potential risk to damage our brand based on statements they have made or their positions on certain issues" aren't permitted, Bloomberg News confirmed by reviewing a copy of the internal code from 2021. Also forbidden are "music partnerships associated with content that includes offensive language in the lyrics."

There are a number of marketing, advertising, legal and trademark policies within McDonald's Golden Arches Code, which states that all McDonald's employees, franchisees, agencies, and suppliers are responsible for ensuring their compliance. "It's kind of a culture-shock thing when you consider the McDonald's brand over the years," said Dick Adams, a franchisee consultant who once owned a McDonald's restaurant. "Especially if you're a franchisee and you're 50 or 60 years old, and you don't have any kids and haven't been exposed to any types of these lyrics. "I have talked to many franchisees who are concerned about it, but it's good for sales, and corporate endorses it," Adams told Fortune. Although he admitted that there are some criticisms and concerns, "I don't think there's a lot of pushback." According to McDonald's, owners and workers support its business, and its marketing collaborations bring in new diners and increase sales. The company said it always endeavors to avoid language that might offend when posting on its channels.

"We're focused on putting McDonald's at the center of culture," Tariq Hassan, chief marketing and customer experience officer for the US market, said in a statement. "Cardi and Offset are an iconic couple who have their own date-night tradition at McDonald's that goes back years. We're proud to share a little piece of that." In an advertising campaign launched by the Chicago-based company, it touts so-called famous orders of celebrities such as the singer Mariah Carey and K-pop group BTS as part of an effort to invest in "new, culturally relevant approaches" to marketing. Hassan said artist collaborations have "fueled significant business momentum, both for the company and our restaurant owner/operators." McDonald's owners were also unhappy about selling the Travis Scott celebrity meal in 2020, said Mark Kalinowski, president of Kalinowski Equity Research.  McDonald's said that Quarter Pounder sales doubled during the first week of the promotion due to the partnership with the rapper. However, Kalinowski told Fortune some franchisees did not like the tie-up because of Scott's song lyrics and vulgarity, which they thought did not match the brand. "We don't live in a society where everybody's liking all the same things," Kalinowski said. "It's really hard to please everybody."