What is in this article?:
- McDonald's defends practices at shareholder meeting
- Concerns from communities of color
McDonald's executives spent much of the meeting defending the company's marketing practices and supply chain policies to activist stakeholders.
Concerns from communities of color
Another comment during a question and answer session revealed a relatively new criticism that McDonald’s marketing targets communities of color with its messages about unhealthful food. Tanya Fields, executive director of The Black Project, charged that the chain’s marketing is more pervasive in communities like her predominantly black neighborhood in Bronx, N.Y., and that McDonald’s partnerships with black athletes like Gabby Douglas and LeBron James target children like hers and undermine her ability to influence her children’s eating choices.
Thompson responded that the criticism “hit close to home” for him as a black man and parent.
“We do not, have not and will not try to target people of color with some kind of subversive [marketing],” he said. “The epidemic of obesity — relative to these neighborhoods, like the one I grew up in — doesn’t come from McDonald’s. It’s not about McDonald’s alone, and we can be part of the solution, and we’ll continue to do that.
“We do take that responsibility seriously,” he added, “but we’re not the brand that you describe. I hope you grow to understand that, as I have the past 23 years [with McDonald’s].”
When questioning turned toward business opportunities for growth, the brand’s leaders reiterated that McDonald’s would open between 1,500 and 1,600 restaurants this year, with the majority of them coming in emerging markets like China.
Fenton, who before rising to chief operating officer was the president of the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa division, said China would have 2,000 McDonald’s restaurants by this time next year and would be the second-fastest country to hit that benchmark after the United States.
“What’s the next China?” he said. “We’re looking at the BRIC countries, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Saudi Arabia. We’ll open in Vietnam in the fourth quarter or the first quarter of next year. There’s still a lot of growth in established markets as well.”
McDonald’s operates or franchises more than 34,000 locations around the world, including more than 14,000 in the United States.