I love travelling. And although a Big Mac wouldn’t
normally be my first choice for a healthy, and nutritious meal, I must
confess I often actively look for McDonald’s famous Golden Arches when I’m
in a foreign city. But why?
Well, like it or not, McDonald’s offers a cheap alternative to local food
in many cities. It’s a quick, reliable and convenient way of filling the
stomach, and you don’t need to be able to speak the local language to
order. Just point at a Happy Meal or Special Menu picture!
As the symbol for cultural imperialism and multinational corporate greed,
McDonald’s is frequently under criticism. McSpotlight, the anti-McDonald’s
website, claims over one million visitors per month. Critics attack
McDonald’s for its cold-hearted pursuit of profits, its disregard for
nutritional value and the environment, and the way it targets children in
its advertising, and marketing.
recently, McDonald’s has been attacked for trying to addict children to
its unhealthy, high-calorie food, in a similar way as tobacco companies in
the cigarette business.
Although this multinational giant has 43% of the US fast food market,
McDonald’s ambition seems to have no limits. McDonald's is so desperate
for customers that it has more or less held prices constant over the past
twenty years. During this time it has increased the sizes of its burgers,
fries, and drinks, expanded its menu and built attractive play areas for
kids while simultaneously giving them sophisticated toys to play with.
As anyone with small children knows, safe and secure McDonald’s
‘Playlands’ can be a wonderful thing, especially when it’s raining outside
and you’ve got children who desperately need to burn some energy. Not only
are your kids more than happy to eat the food, but they are given small
plastic toys to play with and, they’re free!
Maybe McDonald’s, while running after profits, has found the secret to
succeeding in business; you’ve got to give the people what they want.
It isn’t difficult to understand McDonald’s success in its US domestic
market, but how are its products and its corporate image received
overseas? For example, how is McDonald’s affecting Asian culture? One
unexpected consequence of McDonald’s invasion of Hong Kong was that the
toilets in the city became cleaner.
Before the first McDonald’s opened up in the mid-1970s, restaurant toilets
in Hong Kong were disgustingly dirty. Over time, the cleanliness standards
of McDonald’s were copied by other restaurants who wanted to compete with
In Korea, McDonald’s established the practice of queuing up in an
civilised way to order food. The traditional custom, it seems, was to
crowd the counter and push until you got served.
When the first McDonald’s was opened in Moscow, it was necessary for an
employee to stand outside the McDonald’s in order to explain to those in
the queue that the smiling employees were not laughing at them and
ridiculing them but were pleased to serve them.
In spite of criticism that McDonald’s is having a severe homogenizing
effect on global culture, there are examples of efforts McDonald’s is
making to adapt to local tastes and customs of people around the world. My
own experience with the product range and leisurely, laid-back attitude of
McDonald’s employees in Andalucia in southern Spain is an example of
McDonald’s ability to adapt to the local culture.
Although you often hear people say it, it's not quite true that no two
countries with McDonald's have ever gone to war. Both the US and Serbia,
for example, had McDonald's during the Balkans conflict. So, although
McDonald’s isn’t a multinational peacekeeping money machine, it does
provides cheap food, consistency of product, and free entertainment for
Around the world, this increasingly popular symbol of America and its
culture is encouraging healthy competition. You may or may not like
McDonald’s products, but I think you would have to agree that it’s a
pretty good example of successful globalisation.