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The issues of strategic management, intercultural communication and PR were studied by a great number of researchers worldwide, such as Austin (2001), Betz (2001), Gray Hiff (2010), Hodgkinson (2002), Jones (2007), Royle (2006), to name a few. Various strategies are applied to PR campaigns, particularly organized by MacDonalds.
MacDonalds restaurant is a big international company which manages to deal with many issues to promote its products all over the world. Wherever we go, we see recognizable slogans, which are the part of good PR campaigns. And what if a certain PR campaign does not fit the needs of people and the specifics of their culture? Like every transnational corporation it should take the peculiarities of a certain culture into account, for many years McDonalds have been dealing with this issue, using different marketing strategies and intercommunication aspects. Truly, the easily perceptible slogans in one culture can be neglected or mistreated in the other culture. That is why, for many years this company launches campaigns to promote their restaurants and fast food by means of adjusting them to the peculiarities of certain cultures.
For example, on 13th of September, 2012 Come as You Are campaign was launched in many countries all over the world. According to Krishna Athal, in order to promote its products all over the globe, MacDonalds used the concepts of the influence on people through the cognitive aspects, philosophy, the perception of easy-to-get and hard-to-get things, body language and many more types of psychological influence on people (Athal 2012).
Every culture has its own specifics, which are transferred from one generation to another.
What is culture?
Culture is a general term, depicting ways of behavior, ways of thinking, and ways of doing things. All the individuals are born without any cultural concepts. The culture is not the issue of genes, but some phenotype, which is formed by family, school, college, university, media, web and many other components, which follow the peoples life. Religion plays a very important role in the process of forming the culture, since the beliefs are transferred from one generation to another, as well as rites and traditions. The different way of life and level of income, which varies from country to country, is the issue, which researchers should take into account, when analyzing the possibility of adjusting some PR campaign to the culture of some country.
Intercultural communication is the set of rules, which are to be addressed while adjusting PR campaign to the circumstances and culture of a certain country. However, this set of rules may vary from country to country. Although the process of globalization has influenced on the communication between people from many countries, and the world turned to be like a big village, some issues should be taken into account, if the company wants to reach their goals to promote some of the products worldwide.
The keys to successful intercultural communication
In most cases, transnational corporations use particular rules to reach the understanding. According to Carol Lehman, these are:
1. Get to know about the culture from many sources of useful information (Lehman 1998). The information may be presented on web, in books, newspapers and magazines, and on TV.
2. Learn the language of the nation.
3. Find out the concepts and principles of a certain culture, which will help to avoid some trouble points, like some political or religious issues.
4. Religion should be taken for granted.
Come as You Are campaign. The USA
Launched in the United States on 13th of September 2012, the campaign Come as You Are had followed the outcry of the nation over its contribution to alarm the obesity as epidemic.
PR Week US (2012) states that the worlds largest food retailer is taking a lead ahead of its competitors by adopting a policy of complete transparency regarding its menu items, and calories food is counted and outlined on all the menu boards in the USA. This decision was made, according to the health program, launched by the President Obama, in order to solve the problem of peoples overweight in the USA. According to the decision of the Supreme Court, the restaurant chains with more than 20 locations now have to post calories outlines in their menus.
This move was intended to help to combat the high obesity, affected more than 1/3 of the adults and 17% of infants all over the country (PR Week US 2012).
This campaign was described in McDonalds 2012 Nutrition Journey Progress Report, where the main goals were listed, bringing out the companys active interest to promote the healthier way of life for children in a way of providing some nutritionally-balanced choices in menu, making the information easily accessible to both employees and customers (PR Week US 2012).
In line with the calorie counts, the McDonalds has also the goal to expand its offers of healthier menus in a way of adding some seasonal fruits and vegetables to the menus. It was also planned to diminish the use of sugars, fats and calories in all the menus across the USA by 2020 (McDonalds 2012).
The slogan of MacDonalds Come as You Are is related to the well-organized marketing strategy, based on the principles of the human psychology. For example, in USA and some other European countries some characters from movies and fairy-tales are used for advertisements. With the help of such characters it is possible to attract people and persuade them to buy the products, even if they are not healthy, like the fast-food.
MacDonalds PR-experts used the well-known story of Cinderella to promote their products. For example, in one of the advertisements Cinderella is depicted as the girl trying to stop the pumpkin rolling at the serve desk in MacDonalds. It is a pretty young lady in a ball dress, one of her legs is barefooted, and there are 3 mice around. It seems to be a night shift and the princess is placing her order.
At the companys advertisements we can see Dart Veider and the Ghost from the Scream.
The both slogans sounds Come as You Are. What is the meaning of it? MacDonalds corporation tries to make their services recognizable in the European countries and in the USA, which cultures are related and are formed on the basis of the Hollywood movies and fairy-tales. The images from the movies have the strong influence on our psychology, since they are comprised of both favoured and disfavoured characters. For that reason the company has chosen the fairy-tale characters, as they are unique not only by their appearance, but also by their personalities and it does not matter, whether these characters are real or not, the children as well as adults are in favor of fairies.
Come as You Are campaign. France
In 2012, when Come as You Are campaign started in France, MacDonalds asked pedestrians in a business district of Paris to take some outdoor pictures, which later have been used in advertisements. The idea of the campaign was simple to unite people of different nations, cultures, educations, jobs with the help of the one tool, the choice of MacDonalds. Whether you are a student, CEO, programmer, designer, writer, engineer or businessman, MacDonalds is the best restaurant for you. It allows you to feel free and to be who you are. France has become a multinational country due to fast immigration processes, therefore, the idea of uniting is effective in marketing strategy.
Another idea of this campaign, which was successfully applied in France, was a gay-thematic advertisement. It was shown only in France, and, in the opinion of MacDonalds brand director in France, simply illustrates the French society today (Klopsis 2010). In this ad, young boy and his father visit MacDonalds, the boy speaks on the phone with his boy-friend. The father assures him that in his age he had another preferences in the relationships for what the son replies only with a smile. When such advertisement had appeared on billboards in France and it had provoked protests and dissatisfaction all over the globe. However, the chief of MacDonalds corporation explained that their company has different marketing strategies for each of the countries, and that this advert was made particularly for France, but would never be shown in the other countries.
To draw the conclusion, it should be noted that if the marketing strategy is effective within one country, it does not mean that it will be successful in another culture. Every marketing strategy should be based on the human psychology, culture, religion, tradition, which can not be substituted with the other concepts. The adverts of MacDonalds company just show the way the products can be promoted all over the globe. The fact that transnational corporations should adjust their marketing strategies to every country is indisputable. The strategy of MacDonald corporation is the best example, of the successful promoting their products all over the globe. This way can be used by the other companies as well, but there are no universal solutions in public relations.