Fast food giant McDonald’s may be stepping into the culture wars with its new slogan, “Lovin’ beats hatin’.” The company aims to launch the slogan with a Super Bowl commercial in 2015, and to let it be a companion, rather than replacement, slogan for the well-known “I’m lovin’ it.” The timing of the new slogan, however, has many consumers wondering if it’s a commentary on marriage equality and the social backlash.

While the company has not directly connected the new slogan to LGBTQ rights, the Wall Street Journal reported that sources close to the campaign explain it’s intended to spread happiness “in the face of internet hate.”

Of course, the ‘hate’ mentioned could simply refer to animosity toward McDonald’s and fast food in general. McDonald’s has, after all, launched a campaign to dispel rumors and misinformation about the quality and source of their food items. It may have been a much-needed campaign, too, considering the proliferation of anti-McDonald’s viral videos and stories, such as the ‘pink slime’ video that was shared over 1.5 million times in the past two years, and the story of the burger that wouldn’t rot (Serious Eats has more information on that, but the short version is, McDonald’s burgers rot about the same as any other burger.)

Still, it’s hard not to link the word ‘hate’ in fast food to Chik-Fil-A, which was roundly criticized when owner Dan Cathy spoke publicly about his stance on marriage equality. After all, in social media, ‘hate’ was widely linked to the company, not only by those who called Cathy’s stance hateful, but also by those who supported Chik-Fil-A, who responded by saying that disagreement wasn’t hate.

“Chicken with a side of hate” became a common meme in anti-Chik-Fil-A commentary and protests.

Now, with same-sex marriage being steadily legalized in more states, and following the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear appeals cases, it’s becoming more socially acceptable for a company to express support for gay rights. (Burger King did so this summer, with a limited edition gay pride whopper, according to USA Today.)

So, is “lovin’ beats hatin'” McDonald’s way of embracing the movement of culture, and supporting gay rights? Since the company isn’t answering that question at the moment, the public can only speculate.

[photo credit: Keoni Cabral]