Project Description

McDonald’s Celebrates Black History Moments on Canvas

It would be most impactful for McDonald’s to create and implement its own program than to simply sponsor an existing program. This would ensure the program framework to be reflective of the local community and its needs while maintaining a direct tie to the local McDonald’s owner/operators’ support of the community.

Objectives for this program were creating a program in which McDonald’s had ownership and through the program, demonstrating that the Detroit area McDonald’s owner/operators were deeply rooted in the community, caring about the well-being of youth.

Identifying Black History Month as a key timeframe to engage the African American community, Marx Layne developed a program that would engage youth in acknowledging the many achievements of people of African descent.

Marx Layne conceptualized a student art contest—McDonald’s Celebrates Black History Moments on Canvas. The program engaged metro Detroit high school students to learn in a fun way about the history and heritage of people of African descent and their significant accomplishments and contributions to world and American history. At a time when school budgets were less focused on the arts, the McDonald’s program spotlighted art as a tool for expression and learning.

Recognizing this was a new program, built from the ground up, Marx Layne coordinated significant stakeholder outreach to educators, youth organizations and churches to create awareness and excitement about the art contest, and encourage art submissions.

Marx Layne identified a local art gallery to partner on the program, serving as one of the judges of the entries and also as venue for an exhibit of the winning artwork.

The gallery exhibit was launched with a VIP reception honoring the student artists, their teachers and families. Local McDonald’s owner/operators, community leaders and media were invited to attend the reception applauding the students’ talent and accomplishments. In addition to having their artwork featured in a month-long gallery exhibit, the students each received a cash award.

Marx Layne conducted media relations announcing the art contest and call for entries, as well as pitching profile stories about the winning student artists

Local McDonald’s owner/operators were proud of how well received the program was in the community as validated through the number of art contest entries as well as the buzz created in the neighborhoods. The McDonald’s owner/operators were particularly pleased that the program demonstrated their ongoing commitment to support students and their education. The McDonald’s owner/operators have continued to host the program annually since 2013.

Area educators gave positive feedback and were excited that McDonald’s also supported the teachers (all of the winning students’ teachers were invited to the VIP reception and a cash prize was awarded to the teacher of the first place winner). The teacher of the first place winner in 2014 said “This program is not only education but inspirational, not just for the students but the teachers as well, it opens up a new avenue for young artists to express themselves while learning about their history.”

Marx Layne generated significant pre- and post-event media coverage about McDonald’s Celebrates Black History Moments on Canvas. We continued to bolster year-over-year awareness of the art contest with the number of submissions increasing by 102% from 2013 to 2014.

McDonald’s Corporation commended the local program bestowing upon Marx Layne a national award for multicultural/ethnic programming.