#157 No Appetite for McDonald’s Humor in Italy
During the summer of 2019, Italians’ didn’t show much appetite for a meal from American fast food giant McDonald’s. The reason was a failed attempt at being funny in another, neighboring market – Austria. While McDonald’s promotions in the United States often focus on price and value, it has become common in other countries to lure customers to its stores with special promotion weeks that feature limited-time, unique menu items. In Austria, such campaigns included, for instance, the “Maennerwochen” (“Guys Weeks”) during which it offers burgers with extra bacon, meat, or cheese that particularly appeal to a male audience.. In addition, McDonald’s advertising in Austria is known for its often humorous plays on words. In July 2019, it was time again for such a special promotion. In rolling out their Italian-inspired, limited-time menu that included items such as Mozzarella sticks or the “Chicken Amore” sandwich with fresh basil, McDonald’s added to their billboard advertising what they thought was a funny slogan: “Fuer echte Mampfiosi”. What translates into “For real Mampfiosi” is a play on the German word “Mampf” (meaning “to chow down”) and mafiosi – of course referring to Italy’s infamous criminal organization. Italy’s social media-savvy Interior Minister Matteo Salvini quickly took up the cause on his Facebook page, lamenting the use of the common, unflattering stereotype by McDonald’s. Soon thereafter, the Italian Newspaper La Repubblica reported on the issue, and foreign media in various countries were fast to pick up the story. Faced with growing pressure from Italian consumers and the media, McDonald’s Austria reacted swiftly and took down the billboards. Their new slogan, “Fuer echte Amici” (“For true friends”) seems to be a much better fit for the Italian palate…
March 21, 2020 @ 3:15 pm
McDonald’s marketing mission among the world is very diverse and country-specific. To me, it appears they are doing a good job in evaluation of customer’s preferences as well as the way they are putting their advertising campaigns out there. Even though, I am personally not a huge fan of McDonald’s in general, I always have to smile about their humorous and very creative plays with words in Austrian campaigns.
I remember the “For Real Mampfiosi” – campaign and I thought it was not very appropriate, because someone would not necessarily connect the Mafia with something to eat and it represents also a more or less “negative” part of Italy. Therefore, I think Salvini’s reaction was justified and Mc Donald’s alternative “Für echte Amici” fits better, because as Austrians, we like the Italians as our neighbors. I am sure, Austria would not be so happy either, if there would be a campaign out there for Kaiserschmarrn at McDonald’s with a slogan like “How to survive in a basement” or something similar. I do not think it is a good advertising strategy to take advantage of a country’s negative example, even though it’s what they are famous for.
March 24, 2020 @ 8:53 pm
My first reaction when reading the slogan “für echte Mampfiosi” was laughing because I found it a creative and funny play on words. To me the word “mampfen” which relates to be very hungry and to eating greedily in combination with the legendary Italian criminal organization Mafia triggers associations with old-style Hollywood movies about the Mafia in the United States and the male characters typically representing those characters. I think it is a pity that McDonalds had to change the slogan because I do not see anything insulting in it. It is well known that Italy had and still has a problem with criminal Mafia structures, but it is also well known that the majority of Italians have nothing to do with it and moreover disapprove it. In addition, this slogan was created for a campaign dedicated to guys “Guys Weeks”. Therefore, I think one should leave the “Kirche im Dorf” as we use to say in Austria, which means we should not overestimate the problem. I am afraid that if we continue this route, it will ultimately kill creativity because we have to apply creativity censorship to avoid potentially hurting someone`s feelings.
I think – since we are all different with different biographies – naturally we will not approve or disapprove the same things. I think society should allow a certain grey zone to be allowed for plays on words or jokes, even if some groups feel offended.
Florian FJ Meingast
March 31, 2020 @ 10:28 am
Well-thought-out marketing campaigns, like the one described in this very blog-entry, can truly cause a smile on many customers’ lips, make them think about it as well as lure them into shops or restaurants, in order to check out the advertised product. Creating a marketing-campaign can also turn out as a disaster when marketing people not doing their homework properly. It, moreover, should be common sense that the more south one goes, the prouder people get about their country and, especially, its history as well as culture.
When shifting focus again to McDonald’s ads for their Italian-inspired food items in Austria, it was just a matter of time until Italians would recognize and complain about the campaign. From personal experiences, research and conversations with friends from Italy, I know that Italians are very proud of their country and the Mafia there is still active. Therefore, making fun of the identity and culture of Italians as well as the country’s structures led to that outrage. This example shows that if McDonald’s marketing employees did a better job on doing research on Italy when forging a marketing campaign, outrage and negative publicity could have easily been prevented.
April 7, 2020 @ 11:40 am
Further to my previous comment I would like to point out that I think the problem with the name McMampfiosi in Italy was that most Italians do not understand the German word “mampfen”. I think if they would understand it, they would find the name creation actually funny too. However, from the side of McDonalds they should have been more aware that jokes on words are usually only fully understood in the country where that language is spoken. In that sense, although I still think it is a creative idea, I would have recommended to the company to use a different name for selling the product in Italy.
April 20, 2020 @ 3:07 am
McDonald’s is one of the largest companies in the world. They have more than 37,850 restaurants worldwide in 120 countries serving more than 68 million customers each day. One of the challenges of being this size is managing marketing campaigns. Over the last few years we have seen some cases where major companies got in loads of trouble for offensive advertising campaigns or products like H&M for example. In many countries, McDonalds is known for their fun advertisements but in Austria, they pushed it too far by having a play on words about the ‘mafia’. In my opinion, the Italians had the right to be angry as McDonald’s has one million other options for marketing campaign slogans. I believe that they made the right decision by changing it and the new slogan is in much better taste. Moving forward I think that it is appropriate that their marketing department shift with the times as the world is becoming hypersensitive to comments that may come off as offensive. My suggestion is to have multiple marketing directors in each country that have to sign off on new ads in order to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.
April 20, 2020 @ 7:14 am
To me this slogan represents the two things; first the changing sensitivities of humor today and the impact of social media on today’s advertising strategy. I think that consumers can make a big deal out of their own interpretations because they have a voice now that is louder than ever before in the past due to social media. Also I believe because of this voice people have become more sensitive especially when it comes to humor. Play on words and marketing humor is always a good strategy because it signifies that there was careful thought put into place. I do agree however that the issue here is that the humor is based on a negative stereotype. Also companies must consider the cultural reception and humor that best fits their international marketing strategy so seemingly small play on words like this one will not come back to hurt them later. – Phillip
yu ting wang
June 14, 2020 @ 9:47 am
McDonald’s is a famous brand in the world. And we all know that it will have a different meal in different countries. Because of the different cultures. Like in Indonesia, there is no pork in their McDonald’s. Because they are Muslim.
After reading this article I do not think that “funny slogan” is interesting. Because we can know in the article that the word “Mampf” is mean chow down like negative. Therefore, many people think that McDonald’s uses stereotypes for advertising. So, I believe that advertising is a very important reason for the business. If you want to sell something that your advertising needs to be well and suitable for the target. Just like the end of the article that it says they have a new slogan for Italian” Fuer Echte Amici”. That is meant for true friends. Thus, advertising really can lead the item to be well and suitable.
Rebecca Del Vacchio
June 14, 2020 @ 1:15 pm
I recall seeing this poster in Vienna for the first time and feeling very puzzled by it, as I did not see irony in it. I feel like Austrians often go too far with their advertisements (as we saw in class as well) and cover them as jokes but then feel personal attacked when someone talks about Hitler or other bad taboo topics. This McDonald`s example just underlines my statement. It is sad that advertisement agencies play so much with stereotypes instead of creating new connections or tries to educate the mass. Especially in times of #BlackLivesMatter I feel like companies need to overthink their strategies and position themselves better and more inclusive than they have been before. Finally, I think this McDonald`s ad was not very flattering and should have been avoided from the beginning, because culture does not mean stereotype and fitting in just one box.
June 19, 2020 @ 11:54 am
With such a well-known and global brand, such escapades like this can happen.
In fact, I believe a lot of companies can learn some things from McDonald’s. Their campaigns are always very funny, (usually) appropriate and very well thought through! Also, this global player knows very well how to implement the correct strategies according to each culture. A positive example would be their menu adaptations to traditional dishes around the world (e.g. Asia – rice bowl).
Looking at this campaign, the company did not mean any harm and just wanted to use a funny wordplay. Obviously, every German speaker will be able to see the comical aspect of this campaign, but every other person will not understand the German humour behind it.
When you think about it form an Italian perspective, you will be able to understand the reactions. Italy is a beautiful country with amazing people, but Italy will always be associated with the Mafia and their bad crimes. This is a prejudice that will always be associated with Italy. This way of thinking is hardly changeable if the first thing we learn in school about Italy is how many criminally organisation there are and how they are called!
All in all, I understand the intended pun, but I also believe the company did not take other neighbouring cultures into consideration.
June 19, 2020 @ 1:28 pm
Obviously, this advertisement campaign of McDonald went wrong. As an outcome people are upset and McDonald has to deal with negative WOM, which leads to a bad reputation. When rolling out a campaign internationally, companies need to adapt their products to the local needs. Regarding language and communication, it is crucial to understand the language of the target market. Moreover, the right translation of words/phrases/slogans is another essential aspect when planning an advertisement campaign for a foreign market, because there are many differences in meanings in various languages. McDonald is well known for regional adaptations of their products. However, in my opinion the fast food chain doesn’t address the target group in the right way, especially in this example. I mean, the slogan “Für echte Mampfiosi” is quite funny in Austria, but Italians have another sense of humor. This is a reason why companies should do intense research about the target country and its culture.
June 25, 2020 @ 2:34 pm
This advertisement campaign of McDonalds was planned as a funny joke, but it turned out bad for them. They had to deal with a shitstorm on social media and a negative word-of-mouth. Due to the fact, that McDonalds is a very successful company I did not expect them to promote such a campaign. They should have thought about the impact of this advertisement as well as how they represent Italy. Furthermore, a market research about the country and their culture would have been a great idea for McDonalds, as they are outlining the criminality of Italy. In General, it is crucial to check the translation and the meaning of the advertisement before doing an internationally campaign. To sum up, I think McDonalds did not wanted to discriminate Italian people, but they should have thought about the advertisement before publishing it. In my opinion the slogan ‘Für echte Mampfiosi’ is not even funny in German.
June 25, 2020 @ 3:10 pm
In my opinion, McDonald’s is doing a great job in advertising its products allover the world, especially because it is orientated country specific. But despite this fact, I totally can understand, why the Italian people, and especially Salvini, felt offended because of the slogan „Für echte Mampfiosi“, because the Mafia in Italy is associated with negative thoughts. For us Austrians it is just might a funny joke, also because we know the word „mampfen“ and can link the two words toghether into a meaningful word. This is one thing, the people behind the idea did not think well through.
But from my point of view McDonalds safed itself with the change to the new slogan “Für echte Amici” and I think it did not harm McDonald’s much.
This is a great example to always think your campaign or whatever through and try to see it from any possible view.
June 26, 2020 @ 8:56 am
As McDonald´s is operating internationally, people of many different cultures are confronted with the company´s marketing activities. Even though McDonald´s might not use the slogan “Für echte Mampfiosi” in the Italian market, the attention of Italian customers is still caught with an advertisement that is this judgemental against their own culture. While some Italians might still think it is a fun way to advertise McDonald´s Italian product line, others could easily feel offended by a stereotype about their culture that is this openly communicated. I think it was the right move of McDonald´s to change the advert after the firm garnered many negative reviews and to apologise to the people that felt personally attacked in this way. However, in my opinion, McDonald´s should have omitted using this slogan, that is obviously a prejudice, already in the first run.
Such faux pas can happen to a global player like McDonald´s because a certain saying or slogan that is used in one country might mean something completely different in another market the company is also serving. Therefore, deep research needs to be done before a marketing campaign is rolled out and the use of stereotypes, that might offend some people, should generally be avoided.
June 26, 2020 @ 10:24 pm
It doesn’t surprise me that the McDonalds campaign “Fuer echte Mampfiosi” failed. Imagine the Italian McDonalds would have published a slogan like “For real fighters like Hitler”. I would have felt fooled by such a campaign. Some topics simply are called a taboo-topic especially when it comes to a negative historic subject. A true marketer should know that it is inappropriate to make jokes of other cultures, especially when it comes to a global brand like McDonalds. When you take a look into the various menu adaptions within every country, e.g. noodles in Asia, you can see that the company knows how to adapt to other cultures. Additionally, such a campaign might not only lead to negative headlines but also to a bad reputation which could cause the companies shutdown.
All in all, when doing business abroad it is essential that the company adapts to the local market and the local needs. It is essential to check a words meaning and the historical background before using it within a campaign which is about to go global.
June 27, 2020 @ 9:09 am
First of all, I would like to say that I think that MC Donald`s adapts it`s advertising campaigns as well as products very well to cultural differences worldwide. Just think of the “Hüttengaudi” weeks in Austria or the spicy/cheesy rice bowls in India. However, for me this advertising campaign with the statement “For real Mampfiosi” not seems that appropriate and well thought out for a global player like MC Donald`s. Without a doubt one can say that Italians are very proud of their country, their culture and also their history. One can almost say that this country is characterized by national arrogance. Therefore, it is in any way justified from Mr Salvini to claim that this statement personally attacks many Italians. Because who wants to be associated with the dark side of Italy? Furthermore, I totally agree with your opinion that it was right from MC Donald`s to change the advertising message. “For true Friends” sounds much more appealing to me as well and does not violate the Italian dignity in any way.
June 28, 2020 @ 1:59 pm
As McDonald’s local adaptions in Austria are often very successful I do also like the idea of a “Hüttengaudi” or something like that in general. However, concerning the “Für echt Mampfiosi” campaign I really cannot understand why they have chosen that slogan. In our heads, the Mafia is not connected with something positive at all but generally McDonald’s goes for positive associations.
Especially in times of social media it is more important than ever before to do not make mistakes like this. Once a fault like those billboards are recognized by the public it does not take hours until it is spread all over social media. When it comes to this point, it is very hard for a company to work against this wave of shitstorm as fast as it is flooding all platforms. Nearly impossible.
June 29, 2020 @ 8:27 am
First of all, I have to say that the marketing campaigns of McDonald’s are one of the best in Austria. With their humorous plays on words and creative visualization they immediately grab their customer’s attention. The slogan of their Italian-inspired, limited-time menu “Für echte Mampfiosi” what is translated “For real Mampfiosi”, in my opinion does not directly refer to Italy’s infamous criminal organization because the German word “Mampf” (meaning “to chow down”) clearly is in the foreground of the message. I am sure that McDonald’s didn’t want to be disrespectful or bring shame to Italy. We Austrians really appreciate our neighbouring country and wouldn’t interpret it in a negative way. However, if the Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was outraged by the campaign because all Italians are seen as followers of criminal structures – although Austrians would never associate it like this – McDonald’s is forced to change their marketing campaign slogan then. I do believe that as a marketer you have to take some risks if you want your advertisement to be extraordinary and something that raises people’s awareness. Taking into account that one does not attack cultures verbally aggressively, it is still important to allow creativity its freedom.
June 29, 2020 @ 3:18 pm
I totally love this kind of humour and McDonald’s is very good in creating good slogans and especially campaigns. In my opinion it is in advertising sometimes pretty hard, because you have to gain customer’s attention and therefore you have to be polarizing these days. There are so many competitors and we are overfilled of information.
But, the other side is, that McDonald’s as a worldwide company has not just to think of their customers in Austria and beeing funny here, they also have to think of all customers, in this case of the Italians. And “Mafiosi” just stands for a negative aspect of Italy and every culture must respected and as well not reduced for some negative aspects.
Anyway, my personal opinion is, that they did a very well job in advertising, by creating this campaign, but also after all in managing and reacting after this “bad press” from Salvini and changing the slogan for the campaign immediately.
In comparison, the new Slogan “Fuer echte Amici” is very bad and they should think about a better advertising mixture which is not so aggressive like “Mampfiosi”, but also not so boring like “Fuer echte Amici”.
June 29, 2020 @ 9:22 pm
In my opinion, McDonalds implements its marketing activities very well and for the most part also takes cultural differences and food preferences into account. I have to admit that I enjoy viewing all McDonalds advertisements, whether TV advertisements or posters and that they are doing a great job in advertising.
I also had to laugh when I first saw this ad. But after thinking about it and looking at it through the eyes of someone of the Italian culture, I think it is quite inappropriate.
First, I wouldn’t want to link the mafia to McDonalds. Because when you hear the word “Mafia”, you have something negative in mind. And I don’t think that McDonalds wants to be linked to something negative.
I am not sure if the responsible people at McDonalds really don’t know much about the Italian culture or if they just ignored it.
It’s a good example that you have to think through your advertising campaign first. Understanding cultural differences is a very important point in creating a campaign.
But I think McDonalds solved the problem well with changing the claim to “Für echte Amici”.
November 8, 2020 @ 4:15 pm
From my perspective, I think the slogan is funny, and that is because I am not Italian, and I am not familiar with their culture. I’m not saying that people can make fun of anything that other people might think is inappropriate just because they are not familiar with the culture. I am saying that people should spend time on understanding other cultures and not offending others. McDonald is a big scale and worldwide company, and they have lots of stores in Italy definitely. Understanding the difference between cultures is extremely important for not only local companies but also global companies. People have a wide range of language acceptance. Some might just laugh and let it go, but some can not shrug it off easily, and they might be hurt by those single words. In my opinion, McDonald should ask local consultants before they release the advertisement to ensure this advertisement will not offend any culture and any individual.
January 16, 2021 @ 5:14 pm
To me, this seems like the perfect example of cross-cultural advertising gone wrong and it proves a very important point: Even if your ad campaign isn’t meant to cross borders and is targeting one country only, you still need to consider that it may end up reaching an unintended audience. Thanks to social media, images can spread fast. In addition, Austria is a popular travel destination for Italians. It was only a matter of time until the campaign would gain international attention, in my opinion.
Even though I love myself a good pun, I think that in this case, McDonald’s demonstrated a lack of taste. In films, series and music, mafia is being romanticized. In reality, however, it causes fear and economical damage.
I commend McDonald’s on reacting promptly and replacing the word “Mampfiosi” with “Amici”. Generally, though, companies should always be careful when using stereotypes for advertising purposes. It wasn’t even the first time, McDonald’s received backlash, by the way. I remember back in 2013, they compared their burger to an “Extrawurstsemmel”. That comparison didn’t do well as consumer’s consciousness to buy local is ever growing. Many took their anger on social media, exclaiming that they’d pick a local butcher over an international food chain any day.
June 16, 2021 @ 2:29 pm
As a former McDonald’s employee having gained some insight behind the scenes of their marketing campaigns, I do on the one hand side understand why their advertisements are always rather sassy. Austrians simply respond to this kind of humor and using this knowledge for their campaigns certainly works well for McDonald’s.
However, accept that the word play “Mampfiosi” does hurt the Italian national pride. Austrians wouldn’t like being compared to “Hitler” or being positioned as “Lederhosen” wearing mountain people in an Italian advertisement either.
I would suggest that McDonald’s Austria’s marketing team does better research next time to create a slogan with more “amore” to their neighboring countries.
June 17, 2021 @ 7:49 pm
In my opinion, McDonald’s acted the right way by putting down the advertisement after all. The Italians are a very proud and traditional state – proud of their people, country, culture and history. With the advertisement regarding to the less wanted association of Italy and the mafia, of course the Italians felt personally attact. Nevertheless I do believe that Austria, or McDonald’s Marketing team in Austria did not attact them on purpose. Taking into account that Italy is the Number 1 holiday destination for most Austrians, this must have happened accidently or the fact that it could be associated negatively was being blinded out by the humerous aspects of the advertisement. The Advertisement could have really damaged the image Italy aims to promote – la dolce vita, together with all the family! McDonald’s turned it around to promote positively and more appealing – also to the Italians.
June 20, 2021 @ 8:37 pm
McDonalds always surprises with original and amusing slogans as well as jingles that get stuck in my head. To me, over all their campaigns do work for the specific target groups that they try to reach in those themed weeks. Even though I have to say, that the slogan “for real mampfiosi” was an inaproriate message, as it is only funny in other countries than Italy- and to them very offensive. No country would be happy if they see their “flaws” or “negative aspects” in any way used as a promotion. All in all I can say, that McDonalds should stick with “Huettengaudi” or other slogans that are appropriate for the world-wide-media, as McDonalds is a world-wide-known business.
June 28, 2021 @ 9:17 am
When doing global business as McDonalds does, a company is asked to take on extensive responsibility when it comes to adapt its products and its communication as well. But when it’s up to decide on the communication strategy for one specific market, it’s not satisfying to only consider those local requirements. McDonalds tried their best to attract Austrian customers but did not recognize that they might upset another customer group, the Italians. As the Austrian market is well-known for humorous advertising campaigns, it wasn’t actually a big deal for the people in Austria. But especially in times, where awareness for equality and the reduction of stereotypes is rising, it should be obvious that linking a whole country like Italy to only a few “real Mafiosi” won’t bring any positive response for the company.
June 30, 2021 @ 5:48 pm
McDonald’s is such a big company that in my opinion it is a surprise that no escapade like this happened before. As the campaigns from McDonalds are usually very well thought out, they made a huge mistake in this one. Sometimes, advertisements simply go to far which is what also happened in this case. It is not funny at all to play with stereotypes in times like these. To me, it was surprising that McDonald’s did such a mistake as they normally take care of different cultures. They adapt their menu to the habits of the countries, in Muslim countries for example they do not serve any pork. I think in this case the company just did not think that far that this advertisement is inappropriate.
July 4, 2021 @ 4:09 pm
I appreciated reading this blog post, because in my opinion, it shows that the meaning of language and words is interpreted and associated differently in different countries. Whenever it comes to pun, especially when words from other languages are used, it should be double-checked which relevance these words have for other countries. While Austrians mostly know the so-called “Mafia” from movies and not from real life, some Italians may have really experienced organized crime by this organization. The latest news of the release of the mafia boss Giovanni Brusca shocked Italy (source: https://orf.at/stories/3215548/) which furthermore shows how strong importance of this criminal organization is for this country. So even if the pun sounds funny to an Austrian, when using a foreign language the meaning should always be researched carefully and preferably checked by native speakers, to avoid intercultural misunderstandings.
July 11, 2021 @ 10:55 pm
When I first saw this ad, I wasn’t really thinking about how Italians might be insulted through this. But in general, I think that McDonalds did a quite good job with this advertisement for the Austrian target group as people there are very humorous. So, the intention was only to attract the Austrian customers by being equal with the Austrian humor, without even thinking about how our Italian neighbors might feel when seeing this ad. So, Minister Matteo Salvinis reaction to this is understandable. Also, maybe because Italians are proud of their food, drinks, and culture and maybe not of the criminal organization. So here you can really see that the slogan “act local think global” is still quite important.
December 3, 2021 @ 4:32 am
I enjoyed reading this article for a couple of different reasons.
1. The first reason is working for a successful international company and seeing successful steps taken by management and the organization as a whole to connect individuals of different back rounds has been an amazing experience. This article shows that Mcdonald’s didn’t do enough research in or to get an understanding of the culture values.
2. The play on words was clever however it was interesting to see how backfired from a social media post. Social media reputation and presents can make or break a good product. In this case, it didn’t matter if Mcdonald’s tried to provide a great menu they were still seen as a joke.
3. Finally I think they could’ve done a better job with discovering their market’s interest. The corporation had to learn the hard way by having their attempts publicly shamed
December 3, 2021 @ 6:41 am
McDonald’s has always had catchy media promotions and a way to target their audience, after all, they are the king of fast food. But understanding the culture and how one perceives a certain slogan can have negative consequences on their reputation. McDonald’s, trying to use play-on-words for their weekly special that interpreted that all who eat at McDonald’s or eat our weekly special is part of the mafia did not go as planned. Although the ad was not displayed in Italy, Austria still has strong ties to Italy which in the end hurt their reputational image in Italy. McDonald quickly reacted to the ad and replaced it but the damage was already done. A reference to the mafia is like a reference to the Mexican Cartel and naming their kid’s meal “El Chapo Meal” due to the lack of size of the food and how short the kingpin is. McDonald’s should stick to their traditional family-inclusive advertising that has worked for the past 80 years and has been received well in every country they have expanded to as well as continue to use the slogan “I’m loving it”, after all, no one wants to feel even more guilty after eating at McDonald’s.
December 3, 2021 @ 10:39 pm
This article immediately caught my attention as I noticed that an advertisement for McDonald’s displayed a different language than the host country. As I continued to read, it was revealed that the ad was in Austrian, which is very interesting because the language is quite diverse in comparison to Italian. I am well aware that many Europeans know probably more than just their native countries’ language, but an advertisement that is not instantly understood by the customer seems challenging. In terms of McDonald’s target market for the duration, “Guys Week”, the text “Fuer echte Mampfiosi”, does correlate nicely together. The company is trying to promote eating like men and eating a lot of food, especially the featured Chicken Amore sandwich. However, I do feel that the advertisement saying bashes on Italian culture and history, specifically because a negative moment in time is brought back into the picture, which is the rise of the Italian mafia. I think that McDonald’s had originally good intentions and a creative strategy in using another Austria as a way to universally target Europeans and eat big, but they did not have to remind customers of old bad ways of the home country. Despite this, companies need to be creative in order to entice their consumers. Limiting businesses on their slogans could really go far nowadays with how easily offended communities could be based on any given saying. There needs to be some flexibility when we are promoting products internationally. I think the repercussions that Matteo Salvini took were important but I do believe that the complete abolition of the saying was not immediately necessary. I feel that the alteration in the advertisement still allowed McDonald’s to use Austria as a way to attract consumers but without offending Italian culture.
December 4, 2021 @ 1:26 am
Im really not sure how I feel about the billboard. On one hand, I can understand how Italians found it offensive. However I also see why some people argue that it is nothing to be upset about. I come from an Italian family, and I know that Italians have a great sense of humor. However it it true that areas of the country face a constant strain from the mafia. Nevertheless, organizations should always try and do what best for the company. Making the risk of putting up an edgy billboard does not serve the company well. In this case, I am sure that most people found it funny or at least noticed it. However it did cause some people to be upset and therefore Brough bad attention to the company.
Now, it is also possible that this billboard was used as a marketing campaign. Anytime an organization gets brought up in the news it’s another way for their logo to be seen. An organization called SPY Inc. once famously did exactly this. In fact, they went as far as hiring people to act as protestors in order to get even more media attention. Im not sure if this is the “right” way of doing things or if McDonalds even intended to do this but I am commenting on an article written about them so its clear they are still a success.
December 10, 2021 @ 7:48 am
For a company as large and popular as McDonalds, they have to cater and market to their consumers at a high speed, but they have to do it correctly. When starting a marketing campaign, understanding the translation of certain words or phrases is important. Either the word or phrase means a completely different meaning in another language, or other countries are not able to understand. Throughout the article, the idea of humor is complicated because different cultures and customs can take situations different. Until you are able to understand the culture of the location you marketing, having to consider how customers will react to certain things plays an important part in the success in that country.
Gabriel J Becerra
December 11, 2021 @ 2:37 am
After reading how McDonald’s billboard ad “Fuer ecte Mampfiosi” failed to humor the Austrian media, who say this reference to Italy’s infamous criminal organization is an unflattering stereotype, I am not surprised the company changed it quickly after to “Fuer ecte Amici” (For true friends). As described in chapter 4 of the International Business textbook by Ricky Griffin and Michael Pustay, this situation is a classic case of the self-reference criterion. This criterion is important to keep in mind for what not to do when doing business with new cultures. McDonald’s mistake was to unconsciously use American comedy culture to help assess the new surroundings in Austria. To be successful with internalization moving forward, McDonalds needs to attempt to behave according to the rules of the Austrian culture. In other words, McDonalds needs to achieve acculturation, the process to understand, then modify and adapt one’s behavior to match the foreign culture. A resourceful tool to help with this process from chapter 4 is Hofstede’s six dimensions of national culture, which identify 6 important dimensions along which people seem to differ across cultures. More importantly, according to chapter 3 of the same textbook, McDonalds should consider hiring local consultants from the foreign country that they wish to do business. This way, the company will have an employee that is familiar with the culture at hand so no cultural “lines will be crossed.”
April 10, 2022 @ 5:44 pm
From my personal experience McDonald’s is not only doing a good job by having and creating unique slogans in Austria but also taking responsibility for their actions.
Personally, speaking I would not consider the word MAPFIOSI as offensive and stereotyping all Italians as criminals. In my opinion advertising can be provoking if there is no discrimination of gender and race and not triggering of tragedies (such as holocaust). Therefore, in this case I would have not thought of stereotyping Italians in general but saw the word juggling as a very funny way of mixing the word “eating” and Mafiosi.
Nevertheless, the reaction of McDonald’s by taking the billboards down shows that they take action and try to be considerate if in such situation which trying to change the peoples mind or playing it down but with an apology. I do think that as a company being considerate and respecting other people’s feelings regardless if you see them fitting or exaggerated makes a company marketing and company culture effective and successful.
April 15, 2022 @ 6:40 am
Advertising has one goal – to draw attention. McDonald’s does this with funny ads and whimsical neologisms. McDonald’s is doing an excellent job. It is not forbidden to use stereotypes in advertising. The word “Mampfiosi” does not offend anyone personally or offend their dignity.
Compared to the much-criticized Benetton campaigns, this McDonald’s ad is harmless. In 2018, Benetton launched a campaign showing refugees on a boat wearing red life jackets and being rescued by the aid ship “Aquarius.” Here, too, it was, above all, the Italian Minister of Internal Affairs who sharply criticized this campaign. But unlike McDonald’s, which stopped the campaign, the Italian Star photographer Oliviero Toscani, author of the controversial advertising campaign, has even been confirmed. The fact that Salvini attacked his advertising campaign proves it is correct, mentioned Toscani.
It is interesting the power of a politician to force a stop to an advertising campaign that complies with the advertising regulations. What could McDonald’s have done in advance besides check compliance with laws? How could McDonald’s have guessed that an Italian minister would feel offended? Is it the responsibility of companies to think in advance about how people will react internationally to business practices that comply with legal requirements?
April 20, 2022 @ 2:40 pm
McDonalds is known for special slogans and special menus. “For real Mampfiosis ” makes me personally smile rather than get upset. The Italian Minister of the Interior apparently saw it differently. You can find a fly in the ointment anywhere if you want to. I’m not Italian, so it’s difficult for me to understand that you make a wave over something like this. But it’s always astonishing to see the outcome of other campaigns, too. Since it is quite common in America to be (almost) pilloried or even sued for anything and everything, it is surprising that McDonalds doesn’t do a bit more sensitive advertising here. No matter where in the world. Of course I know that McDonalds has the Austrian advertising done by an Austrian agency. Therefore, it would perhaps be appropriate to establish very clear rules and guidelines here so that no one feels stepped on in the future. But to be honest, I doubt that this is possible.
June 28, 2022 @ 2:35 pm
In my opinion it wasn´t that dramatic that McDonalds used the slogan to promote its´ Italian menu because they for sure didn’t have a bad intention but it was definitely not well thought out. McDonalds for sure could have foreseen the shitstorm because it´s not the first time that a company tried to be funny but achieved exactly the opposite. I think especially the mafiosi problems and criminal organizations in Italy but also other criminal enterprises like drug cartels in Latin America or terror groups like IS are without question not suitable for any kind of promotion and McDonalds´ marketing staff should think about their slogans twice before printing them on big posters in the future. I´m sure this failed campaign taught the company a lesson and they will never make such a mistake again.
July 1, 2022 @ 8:59 am
When I first saw the picture of the billboard which says “Für echte Mampfiosi” I honestly have to say that I had to smile. McDonalds is a leader when it comes to designing new and innovative slogans. But in my opinion there have to be clear limits in promotion. I guess advertising needs to be humorous and sometimes even funny but when violence and drugs stand in the middle of advertising message a line has clearly been overstepped. Of course, McDonald tended to promote an Italian week and they most likely haven’t been clear on what they really promote with this advertisement. I would say that there are a lot of other ways in which this event could have been promoted, without referring to the mafia.
July 2, 2022 @ 1:14 pm
First of all, I must note that I think McDonald’s marketing is special in its own way. The promotions like “Men’s Week” or “Hüttengaudi” just go down well with people, as does this marketing campaign in relation to Italy. Personally, I don’t take such advertising slogans seriously and tend to find something like that funny, because there would never be a bad thought involved. Nevertheless, Italy has a high uncertainty avoidance, which means that they put a lot of emphasis on formalities and norms, and such a joke is probably not well received by the stressed Italians. In addition, the masculinity share is very high, which means that they are very determined and such disparaging slogans could possibly also hurt the pride of the Italians. However, their opinion and also their pride should be preserved and McDonalds marketing department will definitely pay more attention to such faux pas in the future.
July 3, 2022 @ 5:45 pm
I must admit that at first I found “for real mampfiosi” very humorous. However, I did not link it directly to the mafia per se and thus one of the most dangerous and negative sides of Italy.
On brief reflection of this wordplay, I do find it more shocking than funny. With such advertising fails I always wonder how this can happen to such large companies like McDonalds, where so many people are involved in a marketing campaign.
The reaction of Minister Salvini was absolutely right. A good relationship with our neighboring country Italy should have top priority here, and so I find the new slogan much more appropriate.
All in all, I’m glad that McDonalds reacted appropriately here, but I also don’t think that the company acted in a deliberately insulting or deceitful way.
July 4, 2022 @ 9:58 am
In my opinion McDonald´s Austria is doing a great job by reaching their customers through funny statements and slang words. Their marketing team is obviously doing great research by finding out what their customers might find funny, and they know how to appeal interesting to each market they sell their products in.
This marketing campaign though, was a big mishap and wasn’t clearly thought through. Using stereotypes might be acceptable in some cases but using another country’s criminal drug problems as an advertisement is very uncalled for. Austria´s uncertainty avoidance level stands somewhere in the middle, so this was one of the few times that McDonald´s marketing team took a risk and they clearly failed.
It´s good to know that they already changed the slogan to a more acceptable one and in my opinion the company should apologize for their mistakes on social media to the Italians and their country.
July 5, 2022 @ 4:27 pm
First of all, I want to say thank you for that interesting blogpost. It’s bizarre how sometimes you see an advertisement, perhaps laugh, and never associate something bad about it. That was, what happened to me while reading this McDonald’s billboard campaign. I am honestly impressed by McDonald’s creative and humorous marketing campaigns in Austria and like how they play with different languages, dialects and proverbs to promote new or time-limited products.
And that leads me to my opinion that I don’t think that the slogan ‘Fuer echte Mampfiosi’, ‘for real Mampfiosi’ is questionable at all. Stereotypes are brilliant to use for marketing and there’s no one to get attacked by this slogan. However, in this case the relationship with Italy is more important, so it was certainly the right decision to change it.
July 6, 2022 @ 6:53 pm
McDonald’s is commonly very good in adapting advertisements to the culture of each country. In the case of the campaign “Für echte Mampfiosi” it went wrong. I personally like the funny slogans of McDonald’s like the current Austrian campaign “Too hot to hendl”, promoting spicy chicken nuggets. But I understand the anger of the Italians. They already have a hard time with the prejudice Mafia and such a campaign won’t help. But to focus on the good things: it is always possible to learn from mistakes. So, for a company it is very important to not just think about the culture of the target country but also to think of other countries if the advertising is about them. For example, the Austrian probably thought that the advertising was funny, but it was at the expense of the Italians, who didn’t think it was appropriate at all.
July 7, 2022 @ 9:56 am
With the slogan “Für echte Mampfiosi”, McDonalds wanted to make a funny promotion for a limited-time menu. However, this became a Europe-wide uproar because a cultural stereotype was used. In my opinion, this case is very disrespectful to the Italian culture because the stereotype was used to promote a neighbouring country. At first glance, the pun seems funny, but with a little background knowledge, one knows that it is not appropriate to equate Italian culture with the mafia. The newly chosen slogan “Für echte Amici” is better chosen.
As an international company, McDonalds is always confronted with the demands of different cultures. Therefore, it is not surprising that mistakes are made. Sensitivity is required in communication, especially with regard to offers that relate to other cultures. It is always easy to use stereotypes for marketing, but this often increases the risk of acting in a way that is offensive to a culture. To avoid such offenses, it is good to cross-check the promotional material with someone who has a strong connection to the culture.
July 7, 2022 @ 6:37 pm
McDonald’s special weeks are quite popular in Middle Europe. The special weeks do not only offer unique, limited-time products, but also hilarious billboards. Just today I saw the billboard „too hot to hendl“ promoting the new chicken burger creation. I like their creative plays with words very much. One thing is for sure. McDonald’s food is questionable for many reasons, but their advertisement is just right on point. But their humor is not for everyone – of course. You should not mess with the Italians, as they are a very proud society. Maybe such slogans should have been tested or reread by an Italian and the problem may have been avoided. But one has to bear in mind, that such oversensitivity might kill creativity. You can not make it right for anybody and sometimes bad publicity is not that bad at all.
July 8, 2022 @ 8:19 am
My first thoughts on this advertisement campaign of McDonalds were quiet funny. Due to I am an Austrian girl I immediately understood the joke with the word “Mampfiosi” because I know the German word “mampfen”. Anyway, I can imagine that Italians didn’t see the slogan “Fuer echte Mampfiosi” as a joke because for them it’s referring to Italy’s infamous criminal organization. Due to the fact, that McDonalds is a well-known and successful international company I didn’t expect that they didn’t thought about the shitstorm after this campaign and why they’ve released it anyway. In general, it is crucial to check the meaning in every country of the advertisement before doing an internationally campaign. In conclusion, I personally don’t think that it was McDonalds intention to discriminate Italian people with this campaign, I think that they only want to make a joke with the word “mampfen” but anyway it was the right decision to change it afterwards.
March 14, 2023 @ 8:34 pm
I am not Italian and I have no right to judge the possible offensive effect of this advertising campaign. However, I would like to note that the used combined term “Mampfiosi” can also be understood as “Mampfen” (greedy eating) and the Italian “Tifosi”. The Italian term tifoso (plural: tifosi) refers to a fan or supporter of something, often used in connection with Italian soccer fans. The connection with fans and supporter of a certain thing would at least be plausible with regard to the McDonald’s offer.
Nevertheless, when McDonald´s deliberately used the word Mafiosi, the advertisement plays on a negative stereotype of Italy’s criminal organization. Such a depiction could be seen as insensitive and disrespectful by Italians and other nationalities. I believe, McDonald’s might have underestimated the global impact of their campaign. In today’s interconnected world, any marketing message can quickly spread across social media, and a poorly thought-out campaign can cause a negative backlash from consumers worldwide. The company should have considered its advertisement’s potential global impact and cultural sensitivity.