Ms. Meyers is a mother, teacher, and advocate for children. She has spent most of her long career working at inner-city schools.
Betrayed by McDonald's
As the parent of two teenage sons, I fell into desolation and despair when hearing about the Travis Scott concert in Houston that claimed the lives of 10 beautiful and vibrant young people. Upon seeing their fresh faces on my TV screen, I mourned the loss of their potential, their dreams, and the many adventures, romances, and challenges that they’ll never get to experience. I imagined the excruciating pain their moms and dads were feeling and wondered how they’d get out of bed each morning to continue their daily lives. I closely identified with them because most of their dead kids were part of Generation Z just like my own.
I was indignant because these young folks were simply enjoying an activity that should have been safe, gathering to listen to a beloved performer of their generation. If my family had lived in the Houston area, I certainly would have given my blessing for my boys to attend this event. Though not a rap fan and unfamiliar with his music, I knew Travis Scott from his commercials for McDonald’s. He had a lucrative partnership with them and, because of that collaboration, I felt assured that he was a good guy. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that McDonald’s would join forces with this performer who had a long history of inciting chaos at his concerts, putting his young fans at risk, and being arrested twice for it. Yet, that’s exactly what they did.
Hoodwinked by the Golden Arches
I have no doubt that many parents of concert-goers in Houston were duped like me because of Scott’s association with McDonald’s. Today, moms and dads across the country have every right in the world to feel victimized by the Golden Arches. Motivated by their boundless greed, they chose to partner with this rapper even though he had a track record of urging his fans to breach security and storm the stage. McDonald’s executives wanted to capitalize on Scott’s popularity with young folks to increase profits and didn’t care one whit if they put lives in jeopardy.
This McDonald's commercial for the $6 Travis Scott Meal was seen by parents like me and portrays the rapper as a harmless, likable doll-like figure.
Documenting the Risk Travis Scott Posed
Here’s the timeline that shows how McDonald’s blatantly and knowingly put our kids at risk:
- 2021 Travis Scott’s Astroworld event in Houston was declared “a mass-casualty incident” after crowds pushed and surged to the stage. As a result of the havoc, concert-goers in the front were compressed, got trapped, and couldn't breathe. Some were trampled. Ten young people, ranging in age from 9-27, were killed. Twenty-five others were hospitalized and hundreds were injured. Dozens of lawsuits are being prepared against Scott who has a long history of promoting chaos at his concerts and has been arrested twice for it.
- 2020 Parents like me saw the McDonald’s commercial that featured the rapper touting the new $6 Travis Scott Meal. Scott was the first celebrity to get a Meal Deal named after him since Michael Jordan in 1992. He and the Golden Arches were also selling merchandise together: shorts, shirts, and a McNugget-shaped body pillow. According to Forbes, Scott earned approximately 20 million in 2020 from this collaboration.
- 2020 Shortly after his Meal Deal was introduced, Scott was cited and fined for hosting an out of control gathering for rowdy fans at a McDonald’s in California without a permit. Police were called when over 500 young people were getting out of hand. It was especially precarious because of the covid pandemic with few folks wearing masks or social distancing.
- 2017 After a concert in Arkansas, Scott pleaded guilty once again to disorderly conduct. As was his modus operandi, the rapper had urged young fans to rush the stage, resulting in several people being severely injured including a security guard.
- 2017 Twenty-three year old, Kyle Green, was left partially paralyzed after attending Scott’s concert in New York City. During the event, Scott persuaded some fans to dive into the crowd from a third floor balcony. During the mayhem, a surging throng pushed Green over the edge of the balcony's railing. He’s now wheelchair-bound.
- 2015 Scott was arrested and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after his performance at Lollapalooza in Chicago. He had encouraged fans to climb over the security barricades and rush the stage. He told them: “Let’s go. Come over. I want chaos.”
In the video below, a young youtuber details the merchandise that Travis Scott and McDonald's sold as a team, making a fortune by tapping into the Generation Z market: basketballs, boxer shorts, blankets, lunch boxes, hats, shirts, rugs, flags, body pillows, and nerf guns.
Abandoning McDonald's for Good
While some folks embrace the motto “it takes a village” when it comes to child rearing, I never have. I chose to have kids so I’ve always figured it was my responsibility to keep them healthy and safe and turn them into kind people and contributing members of society. It’s also my duty to research the celebrities who influence them, whether they're rappers, singers, actors, youtube personalities, or professional athletes.
Yet, I also believe a company like McDonald’s, having long portrayed itself as a family-friendly operation, has an obligation to moms and dads like me who’ve trusted them for decades. After all, I’m in my 50’s and grew up with their costumed characters like Ronald McDonald, Mayor McCheese, and the Grimace. When my sons were little, I bought them Happy Meals and watched them climb through the tubes and dive into the ball pits at their Play Places. As a teacher at an inner-city school, I know how the Golden Arches holds a special place in the community as parents take their kids there to reward them for an exemplary report card or celebrate a team’s victory.
While not asking for McDonald’s help in my role as a mother, I don’t appreciate them undercutting me as a parent. I feel they did just that, however, when choosing to partner with Travis Scott on a $6 Meal Deal and a bunch of merchandise that was clearly marketed at young folks. They surely knew of the rapper’s criminal past but collaborated with him anyway because they were going after the teen market. In doing this, though, they lost me forever as a customer as well as other moms and dads. While we now represent an aging market to them, we were once their loyal customers...that is, until the Golden Arches betrayed us and put our kids in peril. Shame on you McDonald’s!
© 2021 McKenna Meyers