Last month McDonald's stunned the fast food world with the roll out of its
Dance For Your Food, Rummie!, er I mean their I'm Lovin' It campaign, in which customers could pay for their meal by
performing an "act of kindness," such as hugging a fellow diner, singing
a song or promising to vaccinate their children. As you might expect, the campaign was
almost universally mocked, and was considered a failure.
Not to be outdone, this month overpriced coffee behemoth Starbucks got into the act with its Race Together promotion. Baristas were encouraged to write the new slogan on customers' cups and then engage them in an informative dialogue on race relations in America.
Because god knows, whenever I feel like participating in a spirited discussion about our country's racial problems, I immediately head for my local Starbucks. Nothing starts the day quite like a slice of awkward dialogue with a total stranger who's counting the hours until quitting time so they can rush to their second job.
Some of the questions the baristas were urged to ask: "When did you first become aware of your race," and "In the past year, I have been to the home of someone of a different race ___ times." Jesus wept.
Naturally, Starbucks' campaign has been ever more savagely mocked than the McDonald's one. In fact it's been discontinued after just one week. In an internal memo, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said, "While there has been criticism of the initiative— and I know this hasn't been easy for any of you— let me assure you that we didn't expect universal praise."
Schultz went on to say that the initiative "is far from over," and that its abrupt and premature termination was not a reaction to the negative publicity surrounding it. Uh-huh. Everyone who believes that, stand on their head...
Surprisingly, other fast food corporations have been undeterred by the McDonald's and Starbucks failures, and have rolled out their own promotions. Wendy's jumped on this awkward publicity bandwagon with their chilling Report Your Neighbors' Activities To The Authorities For 10% Off A Small Order Of Fries campaign. Taco Bell also reportedly joined in with their extremely ill-advised Kill A Hobo Just To Watch Him Die & Get A Free Small Soft Drink initiative.