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Byron Allen sues McDonald's again

Allen Media Group, owner of The Weather Channel, claims that the burger giant broke his promise to spend more of its ad budget on Black-owned media.
McDonald's lawsuit
Allen Media Group is accusing McDonald's of breaking its promise on ad spending. / Photo by Jonathan Maze.

Allen Media Group (AMG) has filed a second lawsuit against McDonald’s, this time arguing that the Chicago-based burger giant broke its commitment to spend more of its ad dollars on Black-owned media.

The lawsuit, filed in a California state court in Los Angeles, argues that McDonald’s “did not spend anywhere close” to its promised 2% of ad spending on Black-owned media in 2021, “and is not remotely close to meeting its commitment today.”

“McDonald’s is one of those corporations that has lied and made false promises,” Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, said in a statement. AMG owns The Weather Channel, numerous television stations and other media. 

McDonald’s in a statement called the lawsuit “baseless.”

“While McDonald’s continues to invest in diverse initiatives to create real change in communities, Byron Allen files baseless lawsuits as part of a public smear campaign against our company to try to line his pockets,” the company said. “The latest action is straight from his standard litigation playbook, cherry picking allegations to create a false and misleading narrative that is inconsistent with the facts and calculated to distract from the markedly low ratings and reach of his media properties.”

Allen filed his first lawsuit against McDonald’s in 2021, accusing the company of discrimination against Black-owned media. He and other Black-owned media companies then sought a meeting with McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski. Allen has publicly called for Kempczinski’s firing after the CEO’s controversy surrounding texts to former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot regarding the shooting deaths of two children in the city.

McDonald’s has been under fire for the past couple of years over alleged discrimination, with lawsuits filed by current and former franchisees, executives and Allen.

The company in 2021 pledged to increase ad spending with Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific American, Women and LGBTQ-owned media companies to 10% by 2024 from 4% in 2021. That included the commitment to increase spending with Black-owned media to 5% by 2024 from 2% that year.

In his lawsuit, Allen argues that AMG is more than 90% of the Black-owned media market. He claims that the “paltry amounts” McDonald’s has spent with AMG in 2021 suggests there is no way it could meet its 2% goal, though that was the amount the company said it spent that year. Allen claims that McDonald’s is still spending small amounts with his company, meaning that it is not close to meeting its commitment.

Skip Miller, partner with Miller Barondess and counsel for Allen Media Group, said in a statement that the lawsuit was based on California law that “holds corporations to their public promises.”

“McDonald’s said one thing and did another,” Miller said. “It promised to spend 5% of its billion-dollar-a-year ad budget on African American owned media, of which Allen Media is over 90%, and has not come close.”

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