This past week, I was browsing the main McDonald’s website, to find that there are six other McDonald’s websites to explore. I was stunned by the number of different McDonald’s websites, and even more so by the way in which all of these websites target particular audiences.
I expected to see a part of the website devoted to kids. In fact, there are three websites separate from the main McDonald’s website devoted to kids and teens. HappyMeal.com is a site where kids can play games, do puzzles, and see the latest happy meal toys. Apparently there is a code in every happy meal, and when kids enter the code on the website, they can get access to games and virtual pets. Ronald.com is another McDonald’s website for kids, where kids can play games and do learning exercises. McDonald’s also has a website geared for tweens, McDTween. On this website, tweens can play games, are exposed to McDonald’s advertisements, and can partake in various promotions.
Having separate websites for children and teens seems to be the trend amongst the most popular fast-food companies. In addition to separate websites for children, McDonald’s also has separate websites for individuals of different ethnicities. This trend is not as common amongst other fast-food companies. However, it shows how thoroughly McDonald’s is targeting different audiences. 365 Black, for instance, is the McDonald’s website for African Americans. The website emphasizes “community ties” and it is supposed to be a place where African Americans can “learn more about education, employment, career advancement and entrepreneurship opportunities, and meet real people whose lives have been touched by McDonald’s.” The site provides Black history facts and links to events such as gospel tours and the BET Black College Tour. My Inspirasian is the McDonald’s website for Asian Americans, which talks about Asian culture, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and provides web-viewers with “opportunities for achievements.” McDonald’s also has a website for Hispanic Americans, Me Encanta. Similar to the other ethnically-targeted sites, Me Encanta inspires pride in Latin culture, provides opportunities for Hispanic Americans and provides pictures and promotions that McDonald’s assumes would interest Hispanics.
McDonald’s is definitely covering all of its bases when it comes to targeting various age and ethnic groups through its websites. I think it is a concern that three of the seven McDonald’s websites target kids or teens, especially because the rates of being overweight and obese are rising in this population. It is also a concern that there are entire McDonald’s websites targeting African Americans and Hispanic Americans, groups whose rates in the U.S of being overweight and obese are very high. I’m not saying that these targeted websites are increasing rates of obesity or being overweight in these groups. After all, McDonald’s may just be creating websites for the groups with the highest demand. However, I do think it is something interesting to look at and it speaks of our food environment in the U.S.