McDonald's Around the Globe

One of the best known brands in the world is McDonald's.  According to Los Medios y Mercados de Latinoamérica 1998 study, 12.5% of Latin Americans between the ages of 12 and 64 ate at a McDonald's restaurant in the preceding six month period, with the following geographical breakdown:


Geographical Region

% ate at McDonald's in last 6 months
Argentina 21.3%
Brazil 15.6%
Chile 20.0%
Colombia   8.2%
Mexico   5.6%
Venezuela 15.2%
Balance of Central America/Caribbean 16.2%
Balance of South America   6.4%

(source: Los Medios y Mercados de Latinoamérica 1998)

For the global marketer, there is an imperative: "Think globally, act locally."  To succeed in any one place, it is necessary to give careful consideration to the local conditions.  We should also point out that the boundary between the global and the local is not necessarily set at international borders.  Even within a single country, it may be necessary to consider further subdivisions and classifications.

In the following, we show a number of photos of McDonald's restaurants taken in different countries in Latin America and outside.  Even though all these restaurants are generally similar, local adaptations have been made.

  1. Buenos Aires, Argentina (photo credit: Roland Soong).  This restaurant is located on the famous Florida street, which is reserved for pedestrians only.  Note the national flag flanked by two McDonald's flags.  This practice will not be found in some countries.
  2. Santiago, Chile (photo credit: Barbara Smela).  This is an outdoor drive-in restaurant ("automac").  Can you tell what the special is?
  3. Bogotá, Colombia (photo credit: Deborah Levy).  This is an outdoor drive-in restaurant ("automac") with a very large Ronald McDonald perched on the roof.
  4. Caracas, Venezuela (photo credit: Deborah Levy).  This is a restaurant set inside a shopping mall.  Since there is no space indoors to erect the golden arch, a mural is used instead.  A statue of Ronald McDonald invites people to come in.
  5. Mexico City, Mexico (photo credit: Roland Soong).  This restaurant invites people to come in play the game McFortuna.
  6. Buenos Aires, Argentina (photo credit: Roland Soong).  This restaurant is located at the prime location of the corner Corrientes and 9 de Julio, right across the Obelisk landmark.  Space is obviously extremely expensive in this area, and this restaurant is no-frills except for some balloons.
  7. Kowloon, Hong Kong (photo credit: Roland Soong).  This restaurant shares the ground level of the building with a Chinese emporium.  Otherwise, the store does not look different from anywhere else.  Note that the educational system here is bilingual (English/Chinese), so it is not necessary to offer a translation for the name McDonald's.
  8. Taipei, Taiwan (photo credit: Roland Soong).  This restaurant required a Chinese translation for the name McDonald's.  The word 'hamburgers' also appears in smaller English letters underneath.
  9. New York City, USA (photo credit: Roland Soong)  There are many local odinances and building codes about what is admissible.  In this case, the restaurant is able to build  a canopy from the entrance to the streetside across the sidewalk.  This allegedly provides shelters for consumers from rain or snow.  But given the fact that it does not rain or snow that often in this city, this is more an advertising device for the restaurant.
  10. New York City, USA (photo credit: Roland Soong) This restaurant is located at the corner of a building.  Since it owns the air rights, it has constructed a tall vertical sign to bring attention.
  11. New York City, USA (photo credit:  Roland Soong)  This restaurant was located in the Lower East Side, long known as a haven for bohemian artists and beat poets.  So the architectural design is not that of your standard McDonald's restaurant.
  12. London, UK (photo credit: Roland Soong)  Picadilly Circle is one of the busiest points in London.   There is a  McDonald's further down a sidestreet, but they have managed to place a large neon sign on top of a Burger King restaurant right on the circle.
  13. Venice, Italy (photo credit: Roland Soong)  A classically preserved Venetian building yields its corner to a McDonald's advertisement.
  14. Cannes, France (photo credit: Roland Soong)  With the French bistro look
  15. Santiago, Chile (photo credit: Roland Soong)  Unassuming building at a street corner without the big golden arch outside

This collection of photographs deals only with external appearances.  There will also be significant local differences inside the restaurants.  Obviously, a comparative analysis of menu offerings and prices would be very interesting.  The physical aspects of the restaurants interiors would also be interesting.  Do you think that this is dumb?  Well, did you know that there is a McDonald's in San José (Costa Rica) offering Internet access on Apple iMac computers inside the restaurants for customers who purchase certain meals?  So someone may be reading this page inside a McDonald's ...

(posted by Roland Soong on 10/11/99)

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