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McDonald’s is denying that its recent celebrity partnerships have any connection to recent racial discrimination lawsuits filed against the company.
Last week, a historian told Vice that the two recent lawsuits — filed in January and September — could have encouraged the fast food chain to collaborate with rapper Travis Scott and Colombian singer J Balvin as a way to save face with customers of color.
However, a spokesperson for McDonald’s told Fox News that those claims are unfounded, in large part because the partnerships with Scott and Balvin were in the works before the lawsuits were filed.
According to the spokesperson, the partnerships took months to finalize and were both inspired by a Super Bowl commercial that McDonald’s aired in January, which showed off “Famous Orders” of real celebrities — though Scott and Balvin’s orders were not included in the commercial.
McDonald’s announced its partnership with Scott in September and its partnership with Balvin last week.
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The first discrimination lawsuit, filed in January by two Black McDonald’s executives, alleges that they were demoted because of their race and that there was a hostile work environment for Black executives.
The second lawsuit, filed in September by 52 Black former franchise owners, alleges that McDonald’s pushed them to operate franchises in “depressed, crime-ridden neighborhoods,” and set them up to fail, Reuters reported at the time.
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In the Vice article, which was published on Thursday, Marcia Chatelain, a history and African American studies professor at Georgetown University, said that McDonald’s could have partnered with Scott in response to those lawsuits.
McDonald’s has denied that its partnerships with rapper Travis Scott and singer J Balvin are related to two racial discrimination lawsuits that were filed earlier this year. (iStock)
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“[I] wonder if the decision to go forward with this collaboration was a response to not only the criticism on the part of Black franchisees for their treatment within the McDonald's system, but the pressures they have been facing as a result of claims of racial discrimination at the corporate headquarters," Chatelain, who wrote “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America,” told Vice.
"This had probably set up a process of collaborating with Travis Scott, if it didn't necessarily inspire it,” she added.
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In a statement emailed to Fox News, McDonald’s said those claims are “completely false.”
“Any claim that McDonald’s collaboration with Travis Scott was launched in response to recent litigation is completely false,” the company said. “We teamed up with Travis – and our newest celebrity partner, J Balvin – because of their love for the McDonald’s brand, their widespread appeal and their loyal following among our younger customers and our crew.”
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“In regards to the litigation – these allegations fly in the face of everything we stand for as an organization and as a partner to communities and small business owners around the world,” the company added. “Not only do we categorically deny the allegations, but we are confident that the facts will show how committed we are to the diversity and equal opportunity of the McDonald’s System, including across our franchisees, suppliers and employees.”
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