Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's in a brand name: Is the fast-food giant McDonald's co-opting the 365gay brand?

Whoa! Wait just a New York Madison Avenue minute. McWTF is going on?

What is 365Black?

It's a new campaign from fast food giant McDonald's declaring: "We believe that African-American culture and achievement should be celebrated 365 days a year — not just during Black History Month. That's the idea behind It's a place where you can learn more about education, employment, career advancement and entrepreneurship opportunities, and meet real people whose lives have been touched by McDonald's. Plus, you can also have a chance to win exciting once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. So make sure you visit often — you just might get inspired."

And what is 365gay?

365gay is the well-respected and established news gathering service: "The leading virtual community and editorial website for gays and lesbians. offers the latest in entertainment, travel destinations, sports scores and coverage, business, and health news for the gay & lesbian community. "

As 365gay contributing editor James Withers notes: " ... Where is the shout to us friends of Dorothy who have been carrying the 365 water for awhile (Viacom lawyers: get on that please). Second what is the site for really? Selling Mickey D’s products or black-American culture? Lastly, if you need to mention an African tree (who knew the Baobab tree was such a spiritual symbol) to market yourself to black folks in the US, you are trying too hard."

Taking McDonald's at face value, it's admirable that they've created this new 365Black campaign. But it is glaringly obvious that the 365gay brand is being co-opted here. 365gay may not be as big in Peoria as McD's, but you would be hard-pressed to convince me that these masters of marketing are not aware of 365gay and the community it serves.