You gotta sympathize a little bit with McDonalds COO, Don Thompson. Comments about a French McDonald’s ad in a June 14, Chicago Tribune interview have earned him a twofer of some distinction. First, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce said they were not lovin’ the fast food chain and announced that they were severing ties. Then today, the American for Truth About Homosexuality, Peter LaBarbera, announced a Big Mac boycott based on the same commercial and comments.
Since I saw the ad a while ago, I have stopped eating at McDonalds — which has had the added bonus of helping to keep my already protruding gut from officially being designated as “super-sized.”
Now LaBarbera and the NGLCC wants everybody else to eat elsewhere.
What has the culture war factions all upset? Here are Thompson’s comments in response to a question about that French ad (see below):
Tribune: A French TV ad featuring a gay teen and his father has stirred some controversy — not there, but here. Can you talk about that?
Thompson: It is an example that markets, cultures are very different around the world. (For instance), I’ve never shied away from the fact that I’m a Christian. I have my own personal beliefs and I don’t impose those on anybody else. I’ve been in countries where the majority of the people in the country don’t believe in a deity or they may be atheist. Or the majority of the country is Muslim. Or it may be the majority is much younger skewed. So when you look at all these differences, it’s not that I’m to be the judge or the jury relative to right or wrong. Having said that, at McDonald’s, there are core values we stand for and the world is getting much closer. So we have a lot of conversations. We’re going to make some mistakes at times. (We talk) about things that may have an implication in one part of the world and may be the cultural norm in another part of the world. And those are things that, yes, we’re going to learn from. But, you’re right, that commercial won’t show in the United States.
Having watched the commercial, I can clearly see what has everyone so upset. The father’s blatant encouragement of heterosexual promiscuity in his son is shocking and indeed would be offensive to many Americans.
On the local level, the McDonalds here is pretty community minded, having recently hosted a fundraiser for the public library. They donate lots of food, drinks and other items to local charities, churches and sports teams. Friends and neighbors work there and I think they would be confused and upset if their livelihood was hurt due to what some French corporate people decided to do.
Having said that, I suppose there are issues which might trouble someone enough that avoiding the business could bring relief from the dissonance. Personal boycotts may give someone a feeling that they are doing something to live a consistent life. This is a matter of personal conscience. In this instance, I suspect McDonalds has little to worry about from either side.