Friday, 25 March 2011


If you will remember, I love McDonalds.I get excited when I get the coupons in the mail. I think I even wrote a poem titled "Shiny beacon of hope: the infamous M." I even chose the bloody restaurant over my own family (and I would do it again) when I  locked my aunt out of the car when I was a kid at a busy intersection (still have no idea why she got out of the car, but she did) when she wouldn't take me there. She still holds a grudge after 20 years. Where was my intervention at 5!?

I didn't tell you about the toilet incident did I? One time I was so mad I took all her clothes from her suitcase and tried to flush them down the toilet, including her kitten. She caught me tho. Sigh.

Anyways, tangent. Clearly from my childhood photos you would tell I loved McDonalds. I would go to auditions with my mom and she would reward me with the succulent Quarter Pounder, super size fries and large coke. No joke, clearly I was a butterball. Isn't there a brand of turkeys called butterball? I should have been their spokesperson. Seriously. "Mmm, mmm, my mummy loves me cause after she buys me McDonalds for lunch, I get to have Butterball turkey for dinner! They are the most juicy, tasty, fat turkeys, just like me! Gobble, gobble!"

My first ever commercial at 5 years old was a McDonalds commercial!

Needless to say I was addicted. Speaking of addiction, I live in the Tinseltown area where there is a clear divide between wealthy and poor. You can blatantly see the area go from nice to grunge and the people switch from regular to crackheads. I live only two blocks off Hastings right next to the sports arena for those of you who know Vancouver. I ran out of time this morning and got myself an egg mcmuffin no butter ( I kicked the butter habit a while ago after butter rehab) and like usual I was surrounded by crackheads and prostitutes and some visible minorities. It's weird, late at night or early in the morning you can always count on your usual friend doing his jig. The whole McDonalds is like Step Up meets the Thriller video. It's scary. And then meanwhile it's sporatic and unexpected as it turns into Resident Evil and you are literally dodging stumbling, twitchy pock faced people as they complain about the bathroom being locked and how they are missing an unordered cheeseburger. One time I watched two missing tooth prostitutes duke it out by pulling each others hair when one said to the other that she looked like a trashy, poor female dog while the other responded "Do I LOOK cheap and poor?! I just bought $20 worth of food for my man. What do you got to work with? That ratty nest of hair!?" It was pretty ratty...

Anyways, my hood's McDonalds is always an unexpected display of insanity. In all of my world travels I have not come across such a McDonalds, not even in Cairo where it is a different kind of insanity. Literally in Cairo you would be part of the masses trying to weave in and out of people dodging beggers and then suddenly you enter McDonalds and the gates would open, the angels start singing and the bright light shines in your face and everything is civilized. But what about this idea of a beacon of hope? Seems like such an oxymoron to have a beacon of hope in such a neighbourhood when there is no hope.

Obviously McDonalds is one of the most recognizable and powerful brands in the world and I have come across numerous allegorical references to the Golden Arches. It's weird though to have such a display of insanity surounding what is supposed to be a symbol of comfort and hope. From experience and I'm sure the rest of you agree that if you are traveling or backpacking especially and you are lost or tired or at night, when you see those Golden Arches you suddenly feel relieved. What is it about a brand or logo that makes you relieved? Familiarity? Nostalgia? Likability? Trust? Or is it situational? I think it's because you are hooked, like me. They got us when we were young and created a dependency. There must be some emotional attachment whether it be associated with nostalgia, or because McDonalds was there for you in a time of need. Or maybe the same could apply for such symbols as Starbucks?

Whatever the cause, brands have us hooked and have imprinted the need for them on us. We trust in them so much that when they change, we literally throw up our arms and have temper tantrums. Take, for example, the New Coke product and how much sales went down and backlash there was. Or like I wrote about before with OPA! products and the brand trying to become a brand that it part of a new generation young families. Or, in recent times, the change in logo for Starbucks. How about Wal-Mart and their logo and colour change? Some brands are so powerful that they can change their logo, still be recognizable and still make billions of dollars in profits. Is it because of modernization and trying to keep up with the times? Or is there a deeper reasoning behind changing the logo?

It is interesting the idea that as a child, as soon as I saw the symbol or logo of McDonald's, I knew I was satisfying my addiction, as if it were positive reinforcement. Now, even if they changed the logo, I would still feel the same way. Is it really the logo that triggers these emotions, or is it something deeper and more meaningful as if it is a part of my life in some way?

Either way, I ain't never givin' up them nuggets...mmmm I'm lovin' it.

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