Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Battle of the Fast Food Giants Waged on UAE Streets

Fast food ads have dominated billboards in the Emirates but currently there’s a rash of new ads on the UAE streets designed to seduce hungry Emiratis.

Locally Targeted
The Fast Food giants guarantee a uniform quality regardless of whether you are dining in Auckland, Athens or Atlanta.

Cultural adaptations have been made, like dropping the ‘Where’s the beef?’ ad from commercials in India and withdrawing bacon from burgers cooked in Indonesia.

In the UAE the ads have been written in Arabic and English to broaden the diner base.

Increasingly ads are being targeted to each emirate. Burger King’s ‘Now Flame Grillin’ in Fujairah’ slogan is proof that although BK’s recipes originate from their headquarters in Miami, you can “have it your way” in little old Fujairah.

The ingredients and the cooking have become so personalized and Fujairah-flavoured that these ads get the saliva flowing. Furthermore eating Flame Grillin’ in Fujairah is now pitched as one of the essential things you do in the eastern emirate, almost on a par with visiting the Friday Market, the bull butting or Wadi Wurayah.

Targeting Sports Lovers
During last year’s Football World Cup, the fast food ads in football crazy UAE included pictures of football stars to indicate that international soccer success starts at the dinner table with the right diet. The secret to the Lionel Messi success was revealed as he was portrayed holding a tub of spicy chicken.

Many 2011 fast food ads are associating burgers with fast motorcycles and champion basketball players. McDonald’s has done a deal with Apple Mac so by telling a good burger story you can be in the running to receive a free Notebook—a MacBook Air.

Targeting Emiratis
To promote the new Mega Arabita (not to be confused with a rabbit burger), KFC blends a modern Arabian flavor with their secret recipe. In this land of walls, veils and tinted windows, another secret is finger lickin’ good.

Pictured is an Emirati (or he could be a national from any Gulf Country) who is wolfing down one of the new Mega Arabitas.

Some UAE marketers have criticized this ad claiming that the model has an awkward pose, as he is hunched forward with a crooked neck and a padded chest. Others have seen in this solitary diner the devotional stance of a man so in love with what he is eating that he’s oblivious to anything else.

To Emiratis confronted by alarming obesity rates and warnings about poor diets this ad is reassuringly marked with a large halal sign to certify that the Mega Arabita is not only permitted but it has the Sharia stamp of approval.

Freedom to Choose
The ads from various fast food outlets remind us that we have freedom to choose what we eat but it’s useful to reflect on the subtle messages that are beamed to us on our streets by the hidden persuaders.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

“For smart people, signs can replace words.” (Arabian Proverb)

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