For most people who endeavor to eat well and remain healthy, the mere mention of McDonald’s brings forth eye rolls and dismissive, often unkind, remarks. In fact, at least in this country, the McDonald’s name has become largely synonymous with cheap food, poor nutrition and obesity. However, in some developing countries, dining at McDonald’s is considered something other than slumming it. Eating at McDonald’s in certain places in the developing world is actually considered something of a treat, and not in the indulgent junk food way.
Now comes word from China that McDonald’s is being spun in a new campaign to resemble something akin to healthy and wholesome. For the average Chinese consumer, who has been left cynical and frightened over the countless food safety scares involving the countries food supply (like melamine in milk), McDonald’s, the most American of corporations, is largely seen as providing safe and wholesome food. And the McDonald’s corporation is astutely capitalizing off of this phenomenon with a series of television advertisements showing enticing fresh vegetables and healthy looking foods and up marketing this idea of McDonald’s food being “wholesome, clean, hygenic food.” Compared to some of the street vendors in China, who routinely use substandard ingredients and employ less-than-hygienic practices in the preparation of the food they sell, McDonald’s food almost does look wholesome and clean.
But in many respects this is another classic example of the devaluing of the indigenous culture and cuisine in favor of the western, or American, export that appears to be more desirable and superior in quality.
What is your feeling on such a campaign? Is it just cynical marketing at its international worst, or does McDonald’s serve a different purpose in another setting, or market? Can McDonald’s ever be considered a healthy choice, and if so, compared to what?