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ADVERTISING | Explicit photos of black women anger activists

January 21, 2008 by  
Filed under News

(Akiit.com) McDonald’s Corp.’s connection with buns is getting the hamburger chain no love among some black female consumers.

The women are objecting to the Oak Brook-based company’s advertisements that appear alongside images of nearly naked women on an Internet site designed by Black Entertainment Television. The site was created to add a marketing dimension to advertisers’ appeal to people of color.

Activist blogger Gina McCauley takes McDonald’s and others to task for advertising on pages that feature explicit photos of black women in a community section of www.bet.com, part of the Viacom Inc.-owned BET Networks.

McCauley — named recently by Essence magazine as one of the 25 most influential African Americans of either gender — is marching under the banner “Why are McDonald’s, Nissan, the Army, and the Navy Whoring Out Our Daughters?” at her Web site, WhatAboutOurDaughters.blogspot.com.

They’re running an ad for McDonald’s dollar menus next to these black women sporting G-strings, and they would not be running these ads on … men’s sites featuring white women,” McCauley said. She called on the companies to drop support of the site that allowed the scrolling images to be transferred to other Internet sites.

Any company that is running an ad on that site is helping to fund the dissemination of those images,” she charged. “I know that if these were white women, McDonald’s would not be running ads on this page.”

BET — the Washington-based multimedia entertainment company — has been taking fire recently for excessive portrayals of negative stereotypes of African Americans and exploitive images of black women in particular. Last week, BET removed the page that also carried ads from Northfield-based Kraft Foods, Betty Crocker, Cheerios owner General Mills and tax-payer-funded military branches. The move was one that had been in the works and was unrelated to the blogger protests, a BET spokeswoman said. Similar photos are maintained on a different page that allows viewers to rate and post comments about the images of women — and men.

McCauley carries some social heft. Postings on her blog about a BET television show, “Hot Ghetto Mess,” garnered attention that led advertisers to pull out of bet.com last summer. The cable channel renamed the show, which was dropped after only a few episodes.

Kraft Foods spokesman Basil Maglaris said Kraft last advertised on the page in October as part of a broad ad buy on the site to promote a black family-focused micro-site. But he said Kraft, which is chaired by CEO Irene Rosenfeld, should never have appeared on the pinup girl page.

We regret the unfortunate juxtaposition. The content is definitely inconsistent with what our site is about,” he said.

McDonald’s, though, stands by its placement with the suggestively posed beauties to grab an intended audience, said McDonald’s spokeswoman Danya Proud.

Different demographics and different audiences want to be communicated to in different ways, and we believe the content reaches the young adult audience that it is intended to reach,” she said.


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