Asian American Commercial Watch: McDonald’s ‘Office Kleptos’

I can’t recall having brought my lunch to work and having it taken. However, in this McDonald’s commercial, that is the premise of this commercial:

“Check out the new $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu if you have coworkers at your office stealing your lunch. Choose from McDonald’s menu items like the McChicken® for one dollar and top it off with any size soft drink for only a dollar!”

Paul’s lunch has been taken, so he goes off to McDonald’s to get lunch.

Except for Chicken McNuggets, I don’t go out of my way to eat at McDonald’s unless I’m pressed for time (as In & Out, you do have to wait – but can taste the difference in the burgers).

Traveling Japan: McDonald’s in Japan


I suppose it is fitting to talk about McDonald’s in Japan as it was the last stop before we headed back home Stateside, a sort of transition from Japan to America. I have pretty much removed McDonald’s from my dietary routine, for weigh cutting reasons and now for fair trade and sustainability purposes, but prior to this change, I always found it interesting to visit the local McDonald’s in different countries to see what they have that’s different than the local Los Angeles McDonald’s.

First thing is, they apparently deliver McDonald’s in Japan. Check out the McD’s deliver scooters above.

Next, portion size is different. One of my first memories of Japan’s McDonald’s was waiting on a street corner for one of my mom’s friends to come pick us up on a cold winter morning in Tokyo. We went in to buy hot tea and coffee to stay warm, and I had to ask for more packets of sugar because they were so tiny. So portion size in Japan is smaller compared to U.S. (isn’t everyone’s portions smaller than ours?), even in McDonald’s.

Finally, what’s available on the menu is different too. When I went to Hawaii, they had a eggs, spam, and rice breakfast there along with noodle soup and coconut pies. I wanted to order something in Japan’s McDonald’s I couldn’t get back home–the Ebi Filet-O-Fish Burger. Ebi is Japanese for shrimp.

Continue reading “Traveling Japan: McDonald’s in Japan”

Asian American Commercial Watch: Michelle Wie in McDonald’s Ad

I was channel surfing the other night when I came across a Chinese version of this McDonald’s commercial on the Bay Area’s local Chinese channel KTSF. I had wondered why a Korean American would be in a Chinese language commercial, but much to my delight, I was able to find the commercial in English. At first, I wasn’t too sure who that cute Chinese girl was (I just assumed she was Chinese since the commercial was in Chinese until I saw Michelle’s name).  I’m surprised I haven’t seen or heard of this commercial yet. I hope to bump into Michelle at a local McDonald’s near Stanford University one of these days!

The Top 10 Marketers to Asian Americans

One of the few things that I look forward to when I have to go to my Wells Fargo bank branch is looking at the photo murals there.  On one wall are long ago scenes of Chinatowns and also pictures of the Filipino farm workers from the 1920s and 1930s.  Wells Fargo also has a history blog from their archivists, which occasionally covers Asian American history.  As it sponsors  a blog featuring Asian American history and with an ad that shows Asian American couples as regular folks, Wells Fargo is not surprisingly on an Ad Age list of the top 10 marketers to Asian Americans.

(Flickr photo credit: webchicken)

Other top marketers on the list are ToyotaJC Penney and McDonalds. Toyota has been a sponsor of the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival.  JC Penney had a marketing effort targeting Asian Americans, where they commissioned a wonderful little song by David Choi and Kina Grannis.   The McDonalds ad on the left is on a bus in San Francisco, and McDonald’s also has a web site targeted at Asian Americans –

I wouldn’t necessarily buy a product just because they show Asian Americans or use a language that’s familiar to me (my Asian BMI doesn’t need any Big Macs), but doing so does get me to notice, which is half the battle in advertising.  Finally, it’s good to see a top 10 list, especially compared to  advertisers on the bottom end such as KFC or

McDonald’s Loses Trademark Fight Against Malaysia’s “McCurry” Restaurant

A.M.S.P. Suppiah and his wife Kanageswary have a lot to celebrate as they win a major victory in court against McDonald’s in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia today. McDonald’s lost an eight-year trademark battle to prevent local restaurant McCurry from using the ‘Mc’ prefix in a precedent-setting judgment by Malaysia’s highest court. The Malaysian Federal Court ruled that McDonald’s cannot appeal against another court’s verdict that had allowed McCurry to use ‘Mc’ in its name and that other restaurants could also use it as long as they distinguish their food from McDonald’s. McCurry’s signage has white and gray letters against a red background with a picture of a smiling chicken giving a double thumbs-up, in contrast to McDonald’s red and yellow “M” logo. McCurry also serves only Indian food, not competing with McDonald’s menu. Though I have no idea why this couple was so insistent to keep the “Mc” in their restaurant name, it doesn’t seem they were attempting to “fake out” restaurant-goers “Shanzhai” style. I wonder if this opens the door for a chain of “McStinkyTofu” in Taiwan? I, for one, would totally be all over that.

The Snack Foods Brands You Know, with a Chinese Twist

American food companies are blazing new trails in China — with flavors, according to this CBS News Report by Celia Hatton. I enjoyed this story because she showed us examples of foodstuffs that Chinese consumers can find which look familiar, but really are not.

Citing blueberry-flavored potato chips, strawberry and milk-flavored Cheetos and aloe juice from Minute Maid, Hatton says that it seems like every major U.S. food label, “is trying to bite into China’s $186 billion fast food and processed food industries by creating new products made just for Chinese taste buds.” Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, said China is going to be the second-largest or largest consumer market in the world in the next five years. He said, “If American companies don’t figure out how to get it right in China, they’ll be missing out on what should be their major generator for growth.”

Other strange American-Chinese products? Tropicana cantaloupe juice, orange-flavored Chips Ahoy cookies, Chinese herbal medicine Wrigley’s gum.

But, she [Hatton] said, it’s Frito-Lay potato chips that really push the boundaries.

Taste tests, Hatton reported, revealed Chinese people didn’t like popular American flavors like sour cream and onion. So, to reach their audience, researchers developed new flavors inspired by traditional Chinese food, such as savory Sichuan spicy, sweet and sour tomato and sugary options like cucumber, lychee and mango.

Of course, we’ve discussed how popular American fast food chains like McDonald’s have different menus for different parts of the globe, so it shouldn’t surprise you that McDonald’s has a purple taro pie in China. But could you imagine getting your Starbucks coffee with jelly cubes in the bottom? How about getting spicy squid on a stick at KFC. Does that make it “Kentucky Fried Cuttlefish” instead of “Chicken?

Hatton even cites toothpaste companies which cater to the Chinese market with flavors such pointing out lotus flower Crest and salty Colgate.

I will admit that I like my toothpaste minty and I hate the taste of taro, but beyond that, nothing in this report sounds TOO scary for me to try. In fact, I’m really tempted by all those flavors of chips. Are you tempted by these “Chinese” flavors? Do you think that any of them would work here in the States?

All I know is that most of these snack foods don’t remotely resemble the Chinese snacks I knew while I was growing up!

McDonald’s “Asian Weeks” Ad Baffles 8Asians

… at least two of them anyway. Moye shared this with me and neither of us can figure this out.


Does the ad fold down? Huh? What?! You can count ME confused but somehow, oddly, I am craving a fried eggroll with some mysterious red dipping sauce. Do any of our European readers have any insight?

Seen at “Asian Weeks till 24th August.”

Advertising Agency: DDB, Helsinki, Finland
Art Director: Jukka Mannio
Copywriter: Vesa Tujunen
Photographer: Mikko Harma / Kustom
Other additional credits: Mika Wist

(Hat tip: mrod)