The most recent McDonald’s billboard in Austria and Germany gained unexpected traction. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s Interior Minister felt stepped on his toes by this culturally „insensitive” commercial. The billboard which features one of the Italian burgers offered in their Italian Summer Menu addresses „ real Mafiosi”(„Echte Mampfiosi“- mampfen = to munch). Matteo Salvini, who is known for his somewhat provocative rhetoric felt attacked by the ad, which he criticized for implying that all Italians are Mafiosi. So culture once more didn’t just eat strategy for breakfast, but it ate also McDonald’s for breakfast.
This commercial got Mr. Salvini’s attention, and since his reaction on twitter was covered by all major German/ Austrian newspapers I am sure McDonald’s was able to reach a wider audience than expected.
Salvini’s reaction also shows how sensitive we can become when someone just touches our national pride and tries to smear dirt on our impeccable culture.
The ad in question focuses more on the pleasure of enjoying a delicious burger than on the assumption that all Italians are Mafiosi, but still, it struck a nerve.
If you are working in international teams or if you have to deal professionally with people from different cultural backgrounds a lack of awareness of your own cultural blind spots will make you suffer.
Just think for a second:
- Which cultural assumptions do you have about others that could hurt your business?
- Which assumptions/ stereotypes about your own culture make you jump and overreact?
- How do you manage to increase your cultural competence on a regular basis?
Btw., if you don’t have answers to these questions, just sit back and enjoy your Italian Burger.
And if culture takes a bite… just get in touch!
P.s. McDonald’s will be changing the wording from “echte Mampfiosi” into “echte Amici”.
Here the tweet of Matteo Salvini:
rechte McDonald’s Austria
Panino “Estate italiana” in Germania: “Per veri MAFIOSI” (gioco di parole con “mampfen” = sbafare…).
Italiani tutti mafiosi? Che tristezza… Abbiamo ritrovato orgoglio e dignità, indietro non si torna! 🔝🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/UiTvFgxA4g
— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) July 21, 2019