In Watson’s essay, he mentions that McDonald’s makes “heroic efforts” to ensure that their food is exactly the same everywhere. He points out that menus only vary “when the local market is deemed mature enough to expand beyond burgers and fries.” Morocco, apparently, is one of those places.
The McArabia, a grilled chicken/kofta sandwich wrapped in pita bread, is especially popular in Morocco. McDonald’s, with its undeniable success, possess the ability not only to expand globally but to also expand their menus in order to ensure that they can keep customers coming back.
An article on the Huffington Post made the following interpretation of the unique addition to the menu –
“McDonald’s can now afford to sell Shrimp Burgers in Hong Kong, lemon pepper Shaka Shaka Chicken patties in Japan and chili-spiced SingaPorridge breakfast dishes in Singapore – and it some ways it can’t afford not to.”
And Josephb Lampel, a professor of corporate strategy as Cas Business School in London, told the Global Post that fast food chains are now competing not only to be cheaper but to offer more variety.
Is this just another ploy by McDonald’s to get more and more people to become addicted to their restaurant? Probably. And they’re now competing with other local restaurants, who offer the traditional cultural foods that countries such as Morocco normally frequent. Not only that, but to those in other countries, who are upset or angered by the push of Westernization in their territories, McDonald’s new “ethnic” foods catered to them serve as a contradiction. Are we trying to Americanize them? Or are we trying to seem less American in order to make others accept us? And can we possibly recreate another country’s food and successfully make it seem, taste and feel authentic? Or are we just further showcasing our misunderstanding of another country’s culture?
In another blogpost on the Global Post, a controversy erupted surrounding the arrest of six Moroccans, who were eating outside during Ramadan, in protest of a law banning eating in public during the Islamic month of fasting two years ago. And as many fought for more religious freedom, where did the Non-Muslims (i.e. the Western tourists) eat during Ramadan? McDonald’s, of course. And right in front of a sign that reminds customers that Muslim adults are forbidden from being served at the restaurant during Ramadan. So, it seems, McDonald’s can’t possibly alter itself to fit into the culture of another country just by adding a few new food items. The fast food restaurant still sticks out as purely American in many instances.
Maybe I’m wrong – it seems that, according to articles and feedback from those in other countries, McDonald’s usually has a much anticipated arrival. But I find their attempts to adapt rather forced.
But I really wonder if McDonald’s is more for the people of Morocco or for the comfort of the tourists who visit and expect some sign of familiarity. And I can’t help but notice that in new countries, so many Americans first and only signs of American comfort are found in McDonald’s and Starbuck’s.