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By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

May 24, 2023 | 3 min read

The film, which features several young Black surfers, promotes the chain’s new Happy Meals inspired by the live-action version of The Little Mermaid.

Just days before The Little Mermaid live-action film premieres on May 26, McDonald’s has rolled out a national commercial promoting its limited-edition Happy Meals, which offers eight different toys inspired by the new film’s characters.

Central to the film is a group of young Black surfers, who are seen running from the sand and into the ocean to catch waves. All of the girls are members of the award-winning non-profit training camp, Black Girls Surf.

Like the members of Black Girls Surf, Ariel in the new film will be played by American singer and actress Halle Bailey, marking one of the few times a Disney princess has ever been played by a Black lead.

“This commercial with McDonald’s is a visual reminder that we are all little mermaids,” Black Girl Surf’s founder Rhonda Harper said in a statement. “Since 2014, our organization has coached hundreds of young girls from the shores of California by way of Costa Rica, to the beaches of Senegal. We are now surfing our way to the Junior Olympics.”

As part of the campaign, McDonald’s says it has made donations to Black Girls Surf to help support future generations of competitive surfers. The chain also plans to host an exclusive screening of The Little Mermaid for Black Girl Surf’s members.

“At McDonald’s, inclusivity, imagination, and joy live in the DNA of every Happy Meal,” Jennifer Healan, vice-president of US marketing, brand, content, and culture at McDonald’s, said in a statement. “For years, we have worked with Disney to bring magic to life every day. ‘The Little Mermaid’ Happy Meal is an extension of that collaboration, where even more fans can see themselves reflected in profound possibility and feel encouraged to dream big and make waves.”

The campaign was created in partnership with advertising agency DDB Chicago.


Agency: DDB Chicago

Production company: Reverie Content

Editorial: Cartel

Cutters Studios Chicago

Music composition: Beeker Music

Talent: Black Girl Surf

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