As we analyze how audience and purpose affect the structure and content of texts (first learning outcome for Part 1), we come to realize the importance of culture. No one understands this better than advertisers, who construct different texts for different audiences. Multinational corporations, such as Ikea, Starbuck or McDonald’s are faced with the challenge of selling the same products worldwide, be it furniture, coffee or hamburgers. They must show cultural sensitivity in their ads.
In this lesson we will study several McDonald’s ads from various cultures. We will do this with an information gap activity, in which you must guess the origin of each ad. This will generate a discussion on our own cultural bias and create awareness for how cultural values shape our interpretation of texts (the final learning outcome for Part 1).
Guess the origin
You are going to view several McDonald’s ads from around the world. Guess the country from which each ad comes. Do not be afraid to discuss cultural stereotypes and prejudices. These ads may amuse you or disgust you. Make an inventory of your initial responses to the ads in the table below (see printable worksheet below). Explain why these ads work in some cultures but not in others.
|Reveal the origin after making an educated guess||Why these ads work in some cultures but not it others|
10 McDonald's ads
Here are ten ads that you will need to fill in the table above. For each ad guess where you think it is from and write a personal response.
1) Eid mubarak
This activity touches on several important concepts that are worth exploring further. Concepts such as 'stereotypes', 'culture' and 'context' are not only key to Part 1, but to the whole course. Just as this lesson suggests that multinationals exercise cultural sensitivity in their ad campaigns, we too will want to exercise a certain level of sensitivity when analyzing various texts.
Further oral activity - This lesson could be given as a presentation, in which classmates guess the origin of the ads and a discussion ensues on cultural sensitivity. This same principle could also be applied to other multinational corporations, such as Ikea or Toyota.
Written task 2 - Several of the prescribed questions for written task 2 are applicable to such an activity on McDonald's ads. This question may be explored in relation to several ads from various cultures. Be sure, however, to focus on Anglophone cultures.
- "How could the text be read and interpreted differently by two different readers?"