Sunday, June 10, 2007

Globalization... or How I Learned to Love McDonalds

One of the things that has made our lives slightly easier in India is the presence of Citibank and other major banks. With trustworthy, easy to use ATMs and clearly posted exchange rates our finances have gone quite smoothly thus far.

Speaking of globalization, after flirting with food poisoning for the second time in a week the bf decided it was time to add another country to his growing global list of places where he has eaten at McDonalds. Now, given the fact that Hindus consider cows holy and many MANY Indians are Hindu, there is no cow based meat on the McDonalds (or any Indian) restaurant menu. McDonalds carries a lot of varieties of chicken and their flagship sandwich in India seems to be something called the Chicken McGrill. Now, the lack of the BigMac sandwich brought to mind one of my favorite things published by the Economist- the BigMac index. The BigMac index is an interesting look at purchasing power parity. For example, we purchased two medium sized chicken mcgrill combo meals (smaller than the US medium sized meals but similarly including a soft drink and fries for a total of 170 rupees. (Approximately $4.25) Last time I checked- at the bus station in Boston a similar purchase would cost between $10-12. The Economist has to ignore India in the index as these stores do not sell the BigMac but it still makes for an interesting read about the appropriate valuation of currencies and the "basket of goods" used by governments to determine inflation and cpi.

Another interesting note is the global advertising campaign recently launched by Reebok. I noticed the amusing ads aimed at people interested in keeping fit but not competitively sporty with the slogan "Run Easy." The slogan began with "Run at the speed of the Big Dig. Run Easy." The Big Dig in Boston is a monster construction project moving a highway underground and building park land over it that has been going on for 10 years or something like that. It's slow and is immediately identified as being slow by any local resident. In India as we were taking in the sights and smells from an autorickshaw I noticed the local version of the "Reebok ad- Run at the the spped of chat. Run Easy." From what I recall chat is some sort of relaxation food(?) At any rate, due to the global nature of Reebok's ad campaign, I know chat is something that should cause me to assume it is relaxing or slow. This campaign reminded me of HSBC's ad campaign that started around 2002 (?) focusing on local knowledge and cultural differences- such as the different meanings of the color red in different countries. A TV ad in 2004 showed an American golfer getting a hole in one- which would require nothing more than a round of drinks from the golfer in the US, but required him to buy his Japanese companions expensive gifts. The whole "think global, act local" mantra seems pervasive in the marketing culture- I can't wait for my marketing courses!

I didn't check my email for a week and Georgetown gave me three assignments. Ah well. I get on an overnight train up to Jaipur tonight, then into the hills.


Zee said...

How are you doing on your trip. hope all is well now. And the heat wave up north has subsided.

Cynical Consultant said...


I clicked-thru hoping for some stereotypical India stories, so that I could generally annoy and correct misconceptions.

No such luck... :D

HairTwirler said...

zee- Doing quite well, have now escaped up north, currently in Shimla.
cc- ha, thanks. I've actually found that is it is quite difficult to develop misconceptions in this country as signs, brochures and conversation have little subtext (at least the english versions!)