You could have visited the Louvre; if not, you must’ve heard about it (otherwise, mmm … I do not know what to say!!). And you probably heard the news about the upcoming opening of McDonald’s resturant and McCafé in the underground approach to the Louvre, known as the Carrousel du Louvre.
As expected, the idea is igniting a hot debate between supporters and those who are unfavourable of it. On one hand, the museum staff, historians and gastronomists are accusing the project of being as of an insult to the museum name, to its cultural value, and to what it means to the French people. They are seeing the case in which a fast food chain name being associated with such a historical figure is totally unacceptable. While on other hand, supporters’ main argument is that the restaurant will not be part of the Louvre itself, and after all, people have to eat!
Now this is a very interesting case for marketers. And let me put it this way: if you are in the position of McDonald’s marketing director, what will you do?
Are you going to go ahead with the project? Of course you will be thinking about your brand name being associated with such a major destination. All these people from all over the world visiting the Louver will be taking ‘hanging around your restaurant’ expereince as a part of their dream trip.
Or are you going to stop the project? You know a lot of people will be looking down on you, and your brand will be accused of fostering consumerism and demeaning the infamous French gastronomy.
For me, the decision will be to go ahead with the project. I know how dangerous cultural issues could be to a business and how damaging it could be to its brand value. But, McDonalds did it once before! And where? In France.
The way McDonalds showed respect and adaptability to the French culture is a story always mentioned as an example of business’s successful cultural understanding.
So my point here is that I will go ahead with the project but with a special handling. I mean I will consider changing the design of the restaurant, the layout, the staff costumes, adding/removing certain foods or beverages. In few words, I will redesign the whole experience in a way to match the environment of such big historical venue.
So what do you think?
(p.s. Before leaving this topic, I would like to relate this discussion to a local matter. I believe that cities and countries can be branded as any product/service can be. I am not coming with anything new here, I am just stating the obvious (think about Dubai for instance).
For that, the importance of locations similar to the Louvre does not only stem out of its historical value, they are also considered as a part of the city brand. Can you think of Paris without images of the Eiffel Tower and the Louver popping out on your mind? London without the London Tower and the Buckingham Palace?
Unfortunately, it seems that we are still far away from realizing this fact. Take Jeddah historical area as an example. Although a lot of the city residents are emotionally attached to this area, which qualifies it to be a major part of the city brand, it has been abused in so many horrible ways; illegal trading, illegal immigrants, forgotten infrastructure, and threatened by collapse old houses.
The all discussions surrounding the Louvre and McDonald’s send a clear signal that this place is important to the city, to the country, to the whole world culture. It is, simply, a brand! A brand that we should develop, maintain, and make sure it is not compromised.
I hope we will have a similar, or even stronger, enthusiastic look at our own city brand …)