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McDonald's COO: Company's American 'Core Values' Exclude Gays?


In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, McDonald's COO Don Thompson suggests that the reason a gay McDonald's ad currently running in France won't be running in the United States is because homosexuality is offensive to Christians, like himself.

Mcdonalds_thompson Tribune: A French TV ad featuring a gay teen and his father has stirred some controversy — not there, but here. Can you talk about that?

Thompson: It is an example that markets, cultures are very different around the world. (For instance), I've never shied away from the fact that I'm a Christian. I have my own personal beliefs and I don't impose those on anybody else. I've been in countries where the majority of the people in the country don't believe in a deity or they may be atheist. Or the majority of the country is Muslim. Or it may be the majority is much younger skewed. So when you look at all these differences, it's not that I'm to be the judge or the jury relative to right or wrong. Having said that, at McDonald's, there are core values we stand for and the world is getting much closer. So we have a lot of conversations. We're going to make some mistakes at times. (We talk) about things that may have an implication in one part of the world and may be the cultural norm in another part of the world. And those are things that, yes, we're going to learn from. But, you're right, that commercial won't show in the United States.

Tribune: How has it done in France?

Thompson: Interestingly enough, there have been no negatives coming out of France. The brand is a local brand and different things will occur in different parts of the world. We just have to make sure that we understand the impact one action may make on another part of the world.

The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has certainly taken notice:

"The French TV ad has truly been the last straw. To allow people to believe that McDonald’s is the kind of partner portrayed in this ad would be a complete failure on our part to serve as an honest and trusted resource for LGBT people and our families to help make informed decisions in the marketplace."

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  1. I wish I ate at McDonalds so I could boycott it, but I haven't been to one in 15 years. Crap food.

    Posted by: Snowlowe | Jun 15, 2010 8:22:02 AM

  2. It's the best ad McDonald's ever made. Too bad that their American COO is so bigoted he can't understand that.

    Being homophobic is a McDonald's 'core-principal.' You heard it directly from the source. That means a boycott obviously, but it should also mean tons of activism and negative publicity from today on.

    Posted by: yonkersconquers | Jun 15, 2010 8:24:38 AM

  3. Dear Andy,

    I read McDonald's COO Don Thompson's comment that you posted here.

    Then I read it again.

    And again.

    And again.

    And, for the life of me, I could not find any suggestion in the comment that homosexuality is offensive to Christians, like Mr. Thompson, as you claim.

    In fact, Mr. Thompson's reply was quite to-each-their-own politically correct.

    Enlighten me, Andy, because, in my view, I think you're being a bit of a rabble-rouser, feeding the Christian (Thompson) to the gay lions (Towleroad readers).

    Let the games begin.

    Kind regards,


    Posted by: Jedi | Jun 15, 2010 8:32:40 AM

  4. I wouldn’t eat at McDonald’s if you paid me before this! Their food is poison to the human body. I’d call for a gay boycott, but honestly… Hasn’t that already been going on for the last forty years?

    Posted by: Dave | Jun 15, 2010 8:35:18 AM

  5. It's all about the $$$. Obviously in the US, McD believes it has alot more redneck and wingnut customers than those of a more agnostic, liberal mindset. Don't kid yourself, if McD thought for a second it could increase market share with this ad, it would be EVERYWHERE.

    Posted by: Mike | Jun 15, 2010 8:38:58 AM

  6. "I have my own personal beliefs and I don't impose those on anybody else." Except that, as a powerful decision maker, of course he's imposing his beliefs on others. And, to say that, point-blank, he's a Christian belies his ignorance of the religion that he professes to believe in and follow. He also isn't terribly aware of his company's LGBT employment policies, which specifically do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation: sounds like a core value to me.

    Posted by: DougChgo | Jun 15, 2010 8:41:12 AM

  7. COO Thompson's homophobia came through loud and clear to me. McDonalds food is poison anyway. I'd never subject my body to that.

    Posted by: JD | Jun 15, 2010 8:41:33 AM

  8. Agreed, Jedi. I read it three times looking for a reason to stop eating Big Macs. It's not in there.

    Posted by: Rob | Jun 15, 2010 8:42:14 AM

  9. He is suggesting that homosexuality goes against the core values of this nation, this x-ian nation...that is why it won't play here but it can play in the other country. Therefore, it is offensive to the moral values of x-ianity.

    Posted by: Rick | Jun 15, 2010 8:50:48 AM

  10. Rob, you need a reason to stop eating Big Macs? Are you 300+ pounds?

    What part of this story don't you understand? The head of McDonalds says that the company's American "core values" exclude gays because homosexuality is offensive to Christians, like himself.

    Do you need a road map? Is English your primary language?

    Posted by: Sam | Jun 15, 2010 8:51:23 AM

  11. I agree with Jedi and Rob, Andy is stirring the pot, here. Just proof that one must always read things for themselves and not go by the knee-jerk headlines.

    I mean, really, aren’t there enough REAL stories to get furious about without reading into ones that are not?

    Posted by: ichabod | Jun 15, 2010 8:52:40 AM

  12. @Jedi- I completely agree with you. I see no foul here. In fact, I think he's a prime example of how things should be: he may not agree, but feels he has no right to judge others, nor to inflict his views on anyone else. To call McDonalds homophobic because they arent running that ad here does smack of rabble-rousing. Will we next be calling them "curry phobic" because they don't offer the "McCurry burger" here, that they can offer in their Far East markets? And to Mike's point, much as we may not want to believe it, the world is still a big place, with varying tastes and tolerances. I think this merely underscores how far Americans have left to go in acceptance of Gay people, and I don't necessarily hold McDonalds in contempt because they don't choose to lead that push.

    Posted by: Dave Johnson | Jun 15, 2010 8:54:02 AM

  13. Homophobic core values, excuse me. I have an up-coming trip across the northern USA. I will not be pulling into McDo for my coffee or egg-mcmuffin at any of their locations.

    Hopefully I will be able to find Tim Hortons along the way ( I NEED my coffee)!

    You may recall an incident in 2009. One Tim Hortons restaurant in Rhode Island had agreed to provide 250 cups of free coffee for a "Marriage and Family Day" hosted by the National Organization for Marriage. Huge backlash in Canada. The company immediately removed its sponsorship after it was revealed that the NOM was an organization that campaigns against gay marriage.

    We DO have a choice. Boycott McDonalds.

    Posted by: excy | Jun 15, 2010 8:54:26 AM

  14. The Romans had the right idea. Feed the Christians to the lions.

    Posted by: Lonnie | Jun 15, 2010 8:54:26 AM

  15. Yeah, I'm with Jedi here. The problem with this blog entry is that the inflamatory headline got me all emotionally enraged before I had even read the piece. It definitely colored the way I read the COO's quote the first time through. But after several re-readings, it seems his comments (at least in the context presented here) is actually quite laudable. If only all christians felt they shouldn't impose their beliefs on anyone else.

    Posted by: DonOttavio | Jun 15, 2010 8:59:07 AM

  16. "I am a Christian...I don't impose those beliefs on anyone else...except to make sure any ad that shows gays in such a positive, accepting light never airs in Amerika"

    Posted by: Donna | Jun 15, 2010 9:00:32 AM

  17. I don't eat this junk, but that's because it's just bad for the body.

    I'm with Jedi and Rob. There's nothing here which says "I won't run this ad because I'm Christian". France is more open to LGBs than the US, this isn't a surprise, it's sadly honest. I wish McDonald's would take a stand and run the ad instead of taking the easy way out, but there have been how many ads featuring LGBs recently? Maybe one for

    Posted by: DR | Jun 15, 2010 9:03:20 AM

  18. OR..... "I may be racist, but I don't impose those believes on anyone else, except to make sure we never air any TV ads showing people of color."

    Posted by: Donna | Jun 15, 2010 9:05:09 AM

  19. I think what Andy's pointing out is there is definitely a subtext to the COO's comment. I think if you're not with us, you're against us personally. Plus McDonalds' food is gross unless you're 12 years old.

    Posted by: Jim | Jun 15, 2010 9:05:52 AM

  20. I can't believe so many people here are bending over backwards to make excuses for the CEO jerk. Are all these posts by "Jedi" under different names?

    Posted by: Ronald McDonald | Jun 15, 2010 9:07:26 AM

  21. COO says: "I have my own personal beliefs and I don't impose those on anybody else."

    Except when it comes to advertising your company, asshat.

    Posted by: johnny | Jun 15, 2010 9:07:40 AM

  22. Sam, you could be a little more snide and bitchy, in case someone didn't catch your sarcasm?

    I didn't find anything homophobic in what Thompson said. He specifically said he works very hard not to impose his values even though he's Christian.

    Being a parent (a gay parents...and wow dichotomy -- a Christian) I hate that my kids even know what McDonalds is. I hate their food, I hate that my kids like their food. We simply try to avoid the place. If they ran a commercial with a gay character, I'd still hate the place and not want my kids to eat the food.

    But I get what Thompson is saying, cultures are different and in case most of you have been sleeping under a gay rock, most business in the U.S. do not trend their advertisements to gay men and women other than in gay magazines. They cast the widest net and try to offend no one. It's innocuous but it is. I don't take offense that I don't see a gay character in a commerical. Hell, if that's the case we might as well all grow our own food.

    I'm more offended by gay stereotypes in things like Will and Grace, etc., which portrays gay men as shallow, silly, and prissy. Ugh. But I didn't stop buying products from the advertisers.

    How about we all start being positive role models and worry about how we are perceived in our own lives rather than on a freakin' commercial for a food product most of us won't eat anyway.

    Posted by: Bart | Jun 15, 2010 9:08:25 AM

  23. @Dave Johnson

    "I see no foul here. In fact, I think he's a prime example of how things should be: he may not agree, but feels he has no right to judge others, nor to inflict his views on anyone else."

    Would you say the same thing about a man who doesn't "agree" with the existence of black people?
    Also, it's ridiculous to imply that he doesn't inflict his views on anyone else. As an executive, he makes decisions that affect people.

    Posted by: Eugene | Jun 15, 2010 9:09:52 AM

  24. Unless McDonald's homophobia becomes practice (excluding LGBTers from restaurants, employment), there's not much to go on. I mean, are we now demanding that we be represented positively in for-profit marketing???

    The ad has its own weirdness anyway. Straight dads/parents will always be clueless that their child might not be straight? Seems reassuring to those who are claiming not to "see" who is across the booth from them. Message: It's ok not to recognize difference. This beautifully contradicts McDonald's marketing strategy: recognize differences among demographics in order to maximize profits.

    Posted by: maxx40 | Jun 15, 2010 9:09:55 AM

  25. Oh Big Mac, I going to miss you and that special sauce so much. Fuck off McDonalds!

    Posted by: Blair | Jun 15, 2010 9:14:35 AM

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