McDonald’s has long marketed to consumers of color as aggressively as any big corporation. It was one of the first corporate customers of Burrell Communications, the longstanding, highly decorated multicultural advertising agency. While we take for granted that there are lots of people of color in mainstream commercials, the world was much different in those awkward early days of culturally targeted marketing. But a journey through this history offers a (hilarious) reminder of what has and has not changed in the art of selling burgers to brown people.

What we found when we started digging through the archives was that McDonald’s was deeply concerned with black folks getting down. (Excuse us:gettin’ down.)

See more on NPR’s Code Switch.

It all began a week ago in the Vogue offices, when my editor asked whether I might consider getting a skater makeover in honor of Odd Future’s insanely cool and largely underground skate premiere for Illegal Civilization. “Ice skater?” I asked hopefully, picturing layers of abbreviated tulle, waist-cinching leotards, illusion-net necklines, a “Good Swan On Ice” thing. Yeah, I could do that. “Nooo,” she said, “skater-skater. Baggy pants and skateboards. Styled by a pro!”

In a way, Ingrid is the champion of people who you might not immediately think would need a champion. Interview is, she says, “where people who choose the life and the world of fame can feel safe.” In a sense, Interview functions as — and this starts to get at who exactly reads Interview — a trade magazine for the famous, or for those who would like to be part of the fame profession (from publicists to casting agents to actor-bartenders to, Ingrid notes, “pretty boys who’ve just hit town”). She invokes, too, that young person out there in Nowheresville, full of heart and imagination, quite likely gay, who in Interview will see his or her escape route and career possibilities.


To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.
Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
(via ughpoems)