McDonald’s what could be more universal than the typical American hamburger chain restaurant? Well judging by the differences in McDonalds’ restaurants around the world that I’ve witnessed, maybe this image of McDonalds isn’t as universal as I thought. Sure the globe is scattered with McD’s on every other corner, on just about every continent, BUT let’s be sure to realize that their menu, their décor, even their websites differ strongly. It might be one of reasons for their global successes, this ability to adapt and appeal to a multiplicity of cultures.
Although I have not participated in the Spanish McDonalds experience, several years ago I made the mistake of ordering from a McD’s in Paris, France. The portions, the seasoning, the cheese, the condiments, the price, even the napkins had been altered to fit the French’s tastes and lifestyle. Now that I’m in Spain, I checked out the Spanish website for McDonalds and just as I expected, it definitely appeals differently than the American website.
The audience of the American website seems to be mid to lower working class citizens, people who are looking for a filling, satisfying, all-American meal, on a blue-collar budget. However, the audience of the Spanish website seems to be a more sleek, slightly more sophisticated audience evidenced by the clean lines and transitioning of images in their website.
The American website is dripping with pathos that evokes hunger, it’s front page cries ‘’seize the bold’’ complete with strong large graphics that bluntly grabs hold of the audience’s stomach and teases their taste buds. The Spanish website has a much more subdued approach to appealing to their audience, this includes clean sophisticate graphics that feature natural elements, like tree branches, leaves, and subtle rain music. This difference alludes to a different audience, an audience that’s more concerned with the process of the construction of the meal versus the American audience that is enraptured by the idea of instant deliciousness of a hearty burger.
The ethos, the relationship between the speaker and the audience, is verified in the American logo and slogan ‘’I’m loving it’’. This represents a company that we as Americans have grown to trust and recognize immediately because of its presence over the generations. We’ve developed an almost blind sense of trust in the company whereas the Spanish audience has not yet because it is a more recent relationship. Their website develops a relationship by featuring a young McDonalds’ worker in the background of their front page. The worker looks happy, hard working, and friendly which promises the audience the same sense of service. The Spanish website also has more readily available links to nutritional facts and about where the ingredients come from, this kind of information develops a sense of trust between the consumers and producers.
A small cultural side note that I have noticed that may only be slightly relevant rhetorically... In the U.S., it’s quite common to run into a fast food restaurant, like McDonald’s to use the restroom. No one asks or has ever seemed offended whether I make a purchase or not. However, any European fast food restaurant, even the McDonald’s in Barcelona, has strong rules against using their facilities unless you are a customer. I’ve even been to a McDonald’s that had a bathroom security woman who personally handed customers necessary toiletries and ensured that only paying customers used the restroom. I think that this can refer to the more formal atmosphere that even restaurants such as McDonald’s personify in a European context. This formality is even apparent in the website’s graphic quality compared to their more casual atmosphere and graphic representation of the American website. Once again, the contrast of these atmospheres reflects the cultural context of the restaurant.