Back in June, the world was talking about the controversial French McDonald's commercial featuring a closeted homosexual boy and his oblivious father that sparked a maelstrom of criticism from gay rights and conservative groups. McDonald's is in trouble again after their new print ads featuring iconic Gallic character Astérix started popping up on billboards throughout the city, this time amongst French comic fans.
The ad shows Astérix with an ebullient group of warriors shouting and celebrating inside a McDonald's while Cacofonix, the tone-deaf village bard, sits tied to a tree outside. Though the ads do not show the characters eating McDonald's food, it is supposed to convey a traditional feast scene, similar to those in the comic. Instead of regaling on wild boar the consumer is supposed to believe they're feasting on soda and big macs. Keeping in line with their campaign, the slogan "Come As You Are" appears at the bottom of the ad. So why are ardent Astérix fans in such a furor?
Why else? Their beloved character, whom they believe to be a symbol of French cultural exception in the face of US hegemony, succumbed to the evil corporate consumer demon - the big bad fast food chain! The French love nothing more than to condemn consumerism (despite having an economy almost entirely dependent on it and citizens who seem to engage in capitalistic behaviors without realizing-or admitting- their hypocrisy) and for them, the use of Astérix in a "McDo" advertisement is a perfect example of unadulterated and intolerable commercial excess. One French blogger went so far as to say he felt that his favorite childhood hero "had been sacrificed like a wild boar. What next? Tintin eating at Subway?" Come on, now. This is the same character that boasts a hugely successful theme park just outside of Paris devoted to his comic book story – Parc Astérix - that's not selling out?
Let's not forget that McDonald's has achieved staggering European success with France positioned as its second most profitable venture outside of the U.S. With a slightly higher price point and a recently renovated modern décor (sleek finishings, futuristic chairs and a *gasp* green sign), the once-discerning epicures have embraced the food chain - including a more affluent demographic. So what can we infer from this derisory uproar? The French will forever be hypocrites - criticizing globalization and American influence one minute then gobbling up burgers and Starbucks lattés the next. Sure, this is one specific group that’s outraged but it reflects a bigger problem. Anything to take the focus off more controversial human rights issues like expelling Roma, right?
Image 1,courtesy of The Telegraph
Image 2, courtesy of AdvertFan