Is it possible that McDonald's - a brick-and-mortar burger seller - has outclassed its corporate peers in the IT sector with the most profound use of the Internet yet?
When we first stumbled upon McDonald's I-AM-ASIAN website, we thought it was a slightly racist, bizarre locale, promoting the central role hamburgers play in Asian culture. And how could you think anything else given the catchy text displayed on the site? Things like, "Whether we're sipping green tea or enjoying a Big Mac® sandwich, we're helping make the magic mix called America become even richer. And McDonald's is right there with us, everyday!"
On further inspection, the I-AM-ASIAN site is so much more than a shallow attempt to target part of a company's customer base. It's actually the culmination of a well-organized marketing plan - one that proves IT does matter. And, if you're an intellectual property fan, you'll get a kick out of McDonald's attempt to trademark the phrase "I am Asian."
Looking through the site source code, you'll find that a company called IW Group designed the Asian-themed pages. The IW Group specializes in creating marketing campaigns that reach "the growing Asian communities in the United States." We assume they mean "growing" in population count and not in physical size as the I-AM-Asian ads show. IW Group has a rich list of clients, including AT&T Wireless, Bank of America, California Department of Consumer Affairs, Los Angeles Times, Nike and the United States Postal Service.
The IW Group enjoys such success for a reason.
With the I-AM-Asian site, it made a choice to clearly identify who is being targeted right up front. "We're Asian and Pacific Islander Americans 'living on the rim,' where our diverse cultures and the everyday American lifestyle become one. We're hanging on to our great traditions while we move to the beat of the times. We honor our heritage - but we love being Americans." Got it? McAsians have found a way to balance their heritage within this magical boiling pot we call America. Why they have to be labeled as rimmers is not clear.
The site then goes on to pay homage to some McAsians that just love McDonalds to bits - like Karen Garcia.
"Karen Garcia's family is a real-life kaleidoscope! Her mother is Korean, her father German, her husband Hispanic, and her children call themselves mutts - lovingly, of course." Mutts, ha ha, I get it.
"The one common thread throughout the Garcia household is that they all are gung ho American McDonald's® fans." Right on! "I guess you'd just have to say I have ketchup in my veins," Garcia explains.
Add a couple lists with Asian holidays and movie stars, and you have a rich site celebrating the McAsian. This is, without question, one of the most sophisticated uses of the Internet seen to date. We can only hope that other companies will learn from McDonald's use of targeted technology propaganda. Another dot-com boom could be near.
Will similar sites pop up for McBlacks, McWhites and McSpanics? Hard to say. McDonald's declined to return repeated phone calls. ®