Immigrating meals

Image via Minghong via flickr.com

I’m ready for an international food chain in Canada

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. April 7, 2015

The world is full of interesting fast-food restaurants, all with their little unique flares and flavours. And I’m ready to taste them all. However, when you are travelling abroad you might not want to sample fast-food. It’s not exactly the glitzy, adventurous choice. Nevertheless, making a detour to see what they have on the McDonald’s menu in some foreign country is always a must.

With the news that the famous Filipino burger joint Jollibee and the US chicken hotspot Chick-fil-A are joining the Canadian market, I am thrilled. New fast-food restaurant openings are my World Cup and Olympics; they don’t happen often, and it’s not really that big of a deal, but still it makes me happy. Let’s take a moment to remember how happy we were to see Carl’s Jr.

That was a nice moment.

Now let’s take a look at some fast-food joints that I look forward to having, or would love to have in Canada—Vancouver specifically.

Jollibee (Philippines): In 2011, I had the opportunity to visit the Philippines. One image that stuck in my mind during that trip was all the signs with a big-eyed, red-faced, cartoon character. It was essentially the McDonald’s golden arches. The fact that they served spaghetti could not be ignored; I had to try it. Although the experience in the Philippines was lacklustre to say the least, the novelty stayed with me. There was a lot of charm to Jollibee that was absent in some other fast-food restaurants. For a lack of a better word, it was cute—like going to a Build-A-Bear store. It’ll be a treat to visit one in Vancouver.

In-N-Out Burger (US): It’s unlikely that we’ll be ordering from an In-N-Out Burger in Canada anytime soon. Owners of this popular American fast-food chain don’t believe in franchising and have high-quality standards, meaning none of their products are ever frozen. They cannot expand effectively without lowering standards. The fact that everything is processed and delivered locally is really what makes it so awesome. I’ll just stick with Carl’s Jr. for now.

Voodoo Doughnut (US): If you’ve ever been to Portland, you’ve probably seen the long lineup for customizable doughnuts. Purely a tourist attraction, I’m still intrigued by how a doughnut with random toppings on it would taste. Still, I’m not going to waste my trip to Portland standing in line for doughnuts. It’s just not going to happen. Nevertheless, I feel like buying a bag of Skittles and going to Tim Hortons wouldn’t have the same effect.

Bob’s (Brazil): The fact that there is a restaurant with such a generic name—which also might have inspired the popular animated series—is charming enough. In Rio de Janeiro, Bob’s is almost everywhere. It might as well be McDonald’s number one competitors there. Aside from the name, there isn’t much differentiating them from any other fast-food restaurant. We don’t need another Americanized fast-food joint, but variety is as nice as an Ovaltine milkshake.

Shake Shack (US): Why do I want to go back to New York? Because the last time I went there, Shake Shack was closed when I walked by. The world-famous burger shack—strategically placed around the city and in various states—was well-praised for its burgers and hot dogs. You’d think I’d get sick of burgers, but with so many critically acclaimed burgers in the world, I must make sure that it is in fact better than the classic Big Mac.

All you need is love?

Opinions_Mcdonalds

There will never be a good McDonald’s slogan

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. November 11, 2014

Dear McDonald’s advertising team: no word combination or phrase will ever make your company more appealing. You can use the word “love” over and over again, but you don’t need to convince us that you love anything. Just keep churning out your delicious mutated meals and you’ll be just fine.

In 2003, McDonald’s unveiled its “I’m lovin’ it” campaign with vocals by Justin Timberlake. Over a decade later the jingle still resonates—it’s brilliant; it’s so incredibly stupid. I have not met a person who genuinely “loves” the slogan. It just existed to cause us to cringe a little bit, more so than tasting the watered-down 7-Up from a malfunctioning soda fountain.

Then in 2008, McDonald’s dared to change people’s opinion of their food by introducing a new slogan: “What we’re made of.” With no cameo from any boy band members, the lacklustre campaign fizzled out and appeared only on packaging and promotional items.

Now, 11 years since we heard the “ba-da-ba-ba-da!” brain-branding tune, rumours heard through the Internet grapevine suggest that the behemoth fast-food chain will be introducing its new slogan for 2015. At this moment, the possible slogan appears to be rather “lovin’ beats hatin’” or “lovin’ is greater than hatin’.” And a synchronized groan can be heard from the 99-billion customers served.

I hope dearly that both those options are in fact just jokes, because the last thing I want McDonald’s to do is remind me of what I hate and what I love while eating shitty food. Like an unhealthy relationship, McDonald’s is lying to me. Please, McDonald’s advertising team, if you are throwing the slogan online to gauge the public’s reaction, note that it sucks. Don’t put us through 10-plus years of “lovin’ beats hatin’”—it’s not even clever.

Will I stop going to McDonald’s because of its crappy slogan? No, but it upsets me that there is a department of people up in the Micky D’s ivory tower, making such a dumb decision and that this is what McDonald’s is focussed on at the moment to earn customers’ love and loyalty.

A slogan means nothing, and there will never be one that will inspire me to go and eat McDonald’s. However, McDonald’s does many things well: the Monopoly promotion is one of the most successful “golden ticket” marketing campaigns of all time and the kid toys are another brilliant payoff for feeding our youths unwholesome food.

It upsets me when I see McDonald’s try to appeal to an audience that will never be converted. Stop trying to prove yourself to the health freaks and the haters. There is a devoted and large demographic out there that will never stop going to McDonald’s or other fast-food chains. For many, we have committed to this lifestyle of heart attacks, obesity, and diabetes and we are no more or less unhappy for it. We are fine, we are living our lives, we are just trying to find contentment, and we are the people you should care about.

So, if the advertising team is reading this, understand that whatever slogan you end up agreeing on, we’ll always hate it. Don’t waste your time and money with such a pointless initiative. Instead, do what you are already doing, treat us better, and stop lying to us. Because to me, McDonald’s beats nothin‘. It’s the Taylor Swift of nourishment—shake it off.