McDonald’s Selling Sex in China

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When you think of traditional Chinese fare, cheeseburgers and French fries don’t immediately come to mind. But that hasn’t stopped the king of fast food from infiltrating the world’s most populous nation. As recently reported by the Wall Street Journal, “McDonald’s is looking to open some 230 new stores in China by 2008, bringing its total here to about 1,000.”

But convincing the Chinese to eat more beef has proven a challenge. So McDonald’s has launched an ad campaign that looks more like a promotion for prostitution than for Big Macs. Here’s how the WSJ describes the TV commercials:

In one spot, a man and a woman eat Quarter Pounders, and close-up shots of the woman’s neck and mouth are interspersed with images of fireworks and spraying water. The actors suck their fingers. The voice-over says: “You can feel it. Thicker. You can taste it. Juicier.”

Since the Chinese already associate beef with strength, the print ads urge readers to “inject protein and vitamins into your trendy body” by eating the Quarter Pounder. The campaign is designed to compete with the king of fried chicken, KFC, which boasts twice as many outlets in China.

Now I could rant and rave about how the last thing that China needs is to follow in America’s footsteps when it comes to beef consumption and fast food in general. I could say that all of this marketing overseas is the result of McDonald’s having saturated its market at home and has nowhere else to go but to exploit other cultures. I could say that Chinese children are already paying the same price as American kids, with increasing rates of obesity and related health problems. I could also complain that China’s healthcare system will soon be buckling under the same pressures as ours. Lastly, I could say that this type of marketing amounts to a form of cultural and economic imperialism that is both insidious and immoral.

But I don’t really have to say all of that. You can watch the TV ad on the WSJ website and decide for yourself.

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