Fans of Hip Hop artist Travis Scott celebrated the AstroWorld album creator for his unprecedented deal with McDonald’s. The Texas-raised musician and the fast-food corporation joined forces to offer a special meal (a Quarter Pounder with bacon, fries with barbecue sauce, and a Sprite) as well as limited-edition merchandise.
By most financial measurements, the agreement has worked out well for the “Franchise” rapper and the restaurant chain. However, there are now questions if McDonald’s moved forward with its partnership with Scott in order to turn attention away from two pending racial discrimination lawsuits.
One suit was filed by two former senior vice presidents at McDonald’s. Vicki Guster-Hines and Domineca Neal claim the 80-year-old company “conducted a ruthless purge” of its Black leaders and cultivate a “hostile and abusive work environment” for Black executives and Black franchise owners.
Plus, a group of 52 Black franchise owners is also accusing McDonald’s of “systematic and covert racial discrimination” in separate litigation. Some critics are suggesting the Travis Scott collaboration was a tactic to counteract the complaints of racism in the McDonald’s corporate system and an attempt to win over young, Black consumers.
A McDonald’s representative told Vice:
Any claim that McDonald’s collaboration with Travis Scott was launched in response to recent litigation is completely false. 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. 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. 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.
This is not the first time Travis Scott was seen as being aligned with a business that was accused of racial bias. Scott’s halftime performance at Super Bowl LIII in 2019 was met with significant backlash because of the National Football League’s supposed blackballing of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
Kaepernick had not been picked up by an NFL team, allegedly as punishment for kickstarting the global “Take A Knee” protests against police brutality and systemic racism during the playing of the national anthem. After the negative reactions, news broke that Scott reportedly only agreed to participate in the halftime show if the NFL made a joint $500,000 donation to Van Jones’ Dream Corps social justice organization.
“I back anyone who takes a stand for what they believe in,” said Scott at the time. “I know being an artist that it’s in my power to inspire. So before confirming the Super Bowl Halftime performance, I made sure to partner with the NFL on this important donation. I am proud to support Dream Corps and the work they do that will hopefully inspire and promote change.”