CHICAGO – McDonald’s USA has committed to representing the diverse communities in which the company operates, fostering a culture of inclusion and dismantling barriers to economic opportunity. The quick-service chain has committed to financing promotions to reflect those priorities.

McDonald’s announced the company will double its advertising spend to diverse-owned media companies, production houses and content creators — including Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific American, Women and LGBTQ-owned platforms — over the next four years. The allocation of advertising dollars with Black-owned properties, specifically, will increase to 5% from 2% of national advertising spend over this time period.

McDonald’s four-year plan also includes commitments to:

Forge multi-year partnerships with diverse-owned media and production companies, content-creators and influencers to support their businesses for sustainable, long-term growth; strengthen the marketing supply chain; enable deeper, more inclusive storytelling; and foster conduits for cultural connectivity.

Form an advisory board of external marketing and advertising subject matter experts dedicated to identifying the biggest barriers to economic opportunity facing diverse partners and putting collective resources behind new programs and initiatives to eliminate them. The group's focus will be to drive change and impact across the industry.

The announcement follows McDonald’s inaugural Media Partner Summit the company hosted in November 2020. The Summit convened diverse-owned media companies to identify mutually beneficial partnership opportunities that align with McDonald’s overall marketing strategy and goals. McDonald’s said the Summit will be held annually to create and strengthen connections with both new and existing partners across diverse segments.

“We’ve been making serious commitments that are guided by our values, and with this latest move, we're taking action to advance diverse-owned companies across the marketing supply chain,” said Morgan Flatley, chief marketing and digital customer experience officer, McDonald's USA. “We’re using our resources to support these platforms and businesses, which keep the brand at the center of culture while creating deeper relationships with our diverse customers, crew and employees.”

McDonald’s explained that the plan builds upon the company’s longstanding relationships with diverse-owned marketing and communications companies such as The Boden Agency, Lopez Negrete, IW Group and Burrell Communications Group, a full-service agency and McDonald’s partner of 50 years.

“As a Black female entrepreneur, I am proud to be a part of McDonald’s continued effort to meet women and diverse-owned businesses where they are by providing much-needed resources to do business in an ever-evolving marketplace,” said Vicki Chancellor, chair, McDonald’s USA Franchisee Marketing Committee. “It’s who we are as a leading brand that is doing our part to help underserved communities thrive.”

The announcement comes just as Entertainment Studios Networks Inc. and Weather Group LLC, both divisions of Allen Media Group, filed a lawsuit against the QSR seeking $10 billion in damages for racial discrimination in contracting. The lawsuit alleges that McDonald's intentionally discriminated against Entertainment Studios and Weather Group through a pattern of racial stereotyping and refusals to contract. Allen Media Group is owned by African American entrepreneur Byron Allen, chairman and chief executive officer.

The lawsuit alleges that McDonald’s engaged in racial stereotyping by relegating Entertainment Studios to a “less-favorable African American tier” because the companies are owned by Allen.

“Through this stereotyping, McDonald's prevented Entertainment Studios and Weather Group from accessing McDonald’s general market advertising budget and deprived the companies of advertising revenue that otherwise would have been paid if McDonald’s treated the companies the same as similarly situated, white-owned companies,” Allen Media Group said.

“This is about economic inclusion of African American-owned businesses in the US economy,” Allen said. “McDonald’s takes billions from African American consumers and gives almost nothing back. The biggest trade deficit in America is the trade deficit between White corporate America and Black America, and McDonald’s is guilty of perpetuating this disparity. The economic exclusion must stop immediately.”