McDonald’s addresses Cardi B and Offset Meal backlash

McDonald’s new Cardi B and Offset Meal recently sparked backlash among some franchises for allegedly violating the “Golden Arches Code,” but the fast food chain has defended its latest celebrity collaboration.

Last month, McDonald’s debuted its Cardi B and Offset promotion in a 2023 Super ad. The commercial for the Valentine’s Day combo meal featured the two rappers – who have been married since 2017 – enjoying a lavish date with their go-to McDonald’s order. The meal includes one cheeseburger with barbecue sauce and a quarter pounder with cheese, two drinks, fries, and an apple pie.

However, some McDonald’s franchise owners were reportedly unhappy with the collaboration because the couple’s use of profanities and sexual content “will hurt” the family-friendly brand’s image.

Many franchisees have even refused to carry the Cardi B and Offset Meal by invoking the “Golden Arches Code” – a set of marketing guidelines for store owners and employees, according to Fortune.

A 2021 copy of the code obtained by Bloomberg News says that “partnerships with celebrities and influencers that have potential risk to damage our brand based on statements they have made or their positions on certain issues” aren’t permitted, and “music partnerships associated with content that includes offensive language in the lyrics” are also a violation of the code.

Despite the backlash, McDonald’s has maintained that franchise owners and employees are in support of the Cardi B and Offset Meal. In a statement to TMZ on 4 March, a representative for McDonald’s said the chain “stands behind our partnership with Cardi B and Offset. They have been incredible partners and we support them as a family.”

McDonald’s previous partnerships with entertainers like Travis Scott, Saweetie, and BTS have also proven to be successful for the company.

“We’re focused on putting McDonald’s at the center of culture,” said Tariq Hassan, chief marketing and customer experience officer for McDonald’s USA, in a statement to Fortune. “Cardi and Offset are an iconic couple who have their own date-night tradition at McDonald’s that goes back years. We’re proud to share a little piece of that.”

Hassan added that artist collaborations have “fueled significant business momentum, both for the company and our restaurant owner/operators.”

In 2020, rapper Travis Scott became the first celebrity with a McDonald’s meal since Michael Jordan’s “McJordan” in 1992. The “Travis Scott Meal” – which included a quarter pounder with cheese and bacon, fries with barbecue sauce, and a medium Sprite – earned the “Sicko Mode” rapper a reported $20m from the deal.

Cardi B and Offset have not responded to the backlash.

The Independent has contacted McDonald’s for comment.