Neat bit of anthropological observation and reasoning by a guy named Rolf who runs a travel site on yahoo travel. His premise, which seems entirely plausible to me, is that McDonald's overseas is not an American cultural oasis, but an oasis largely free of culture. Whether this is positive or not, argue amongst yourselves. Regardless of where you stand, the chain clearly addresses a consumer need and admit that you already suspect it is not entirely tied to the food. Based on Rolf's premise, you could argue that McD's has developed a "third space" every bit as distinctive as Starbuck's.
"European onlookers will tell you (with a slight sneer) that these peripatetic Yanks are simply seeking the dull, familiar comforts American culture. And this explanation might be devastatingly conclusive were it not for the fact that European McDonald's also happen to be crammed this time of year with travelers from Japan, Brazil,
Israel, New Zealand, Argentina, Korea, Canada, India, Taiwan, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, and — yes — neighboring European countries.
Indeed, despite its vaunted reputation as a juggernaut of American culture, McDonald's has come to function as an ecumenical refuge for travelers of all stripes. This is not because McDonald's creates an American sense of place and culture, but because it creates a smoothly standardized absence of place and culture — a neutral environment that allows travelers to take a psychic time-out from the din of their real surroundings.
Read the whole thing.
Share ideas that inspire. FALLON PLANNERS (and co-conspirators) are freely invited to post trends, commentary, obscure ephemera and insightful rants regarding the experience of branding.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Posted by Mnels at 6/29/2006 11:20:00 AM