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We Have Met the Enemy and They Is McDonald's

From Business 2.0, "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Pander to 'Em", an article on how international McDonald's outlets have distanced themselves from the US during times of anti-Americanism. Some seem particularly egregious:

France 1997-2002

Problem: Backlash against U.S. cultural imperialism. When French farmer Jose Bove vandalized a McDonald's outlet in 1999, his compatriots were thrilled.

McSpin: Franchise launches ads featuring cowboys who boast that McDonald's France refuses to import American beef "to guarantee maximum hygienic conditions." Ronald McDonald takes a backseat to Asterix, the cartoon defender of French independence.

Yugoslavia 1998

Problem: Operating under NATO auspices, the U.S. military begins a bombing campaign against Belgrade.

McSpin: Franchise repositions McDonald's as a symbol of anti-NATO protest. Hands out free burgers at rallies and adds a Serbian nationalist cap to the Golden Arches icon under the slogan "McDonald's is yours." ...

Egypt 2001

Problem: Anti-American boycott sparked by U.S. support for Israel.

McSpin: Local outlets introduce the McFalafel, rolled out behind an ad jingle sung by Shabaan Abdel Rahim, best known for his chart-topping hit "I Hate Israel."

The article goes on to state that the Saudi Arabian franchisee's response to a Palestinian-inspired boycott of American products was to donate "30 cents from every Big Mac sold to the Red Crescent Society and Nasser Hospital in Gaza for treatment of Palestinian casualties," which seems reasonable to me -- more logical and well-intentioned, certainly, than using French-speaking cowboys to trash American beef, or making the Golden Arches a symbol of Serbian nationalism.


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