Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Globalization and PR

Globalization and PR
Bisnis Indonesia 10 Aug, 2003

We are familiar with the scrumptious McDonald’s burger, the crunchiness of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) or the freshness of Coca Cola. Even though in numerous countries, local franchisees try to imbue the ‘touch’ of local specialties, but the basic taste of these multinational companies’ products are still same.

In a nut shell, the taste of BigMac we purchase in Jakarta, is exactly the same with the one we purchase in Tokyo, Moscow or Buenos Aires. The same apply to the crispyness of KFC’s chicken wings or the malt scent in Coca Cola.

All of these are not a matter of coincidence. Oppositely, the ’enforcement’ of taste is intentional. More than that, the service standard of each McDonald’s and KFC restaurants could be termed as similar.

In the case of KFC, for example, the same taste, is due to hystorical factor. Colonel Harland Sanders – the founder of KFC – wanted to maintain the original taste of his fried chicken.
KFC, McDonald’s and Coca Cola, are few examples of how the world could be united in culinary terminology. The exact union in terms that there’s no barrier of discrimination. The difference in foreign exchange, is almost inconsequential. Make an attempt to convert the exchange rate, the price of a bottle of Coca Cola in Jakarta, is not much different from the price of another bottle of Coca Cola in Atlanta, where the main factory and headquarter of the world highest selling softdrink company is located.

’One Taste, For All of The World’. This is the realization of globalization concept – perhaps, these are what the owners and managements of these multinational companies would say. But the scenario of ’one world, one taste’ to those allergic to all factors linked to the western world and the United States, may mean more. Even could be politicized.

For these parties, globalization is a stage of capitalism development process, which started with colonialism. Globalization is the next phase of developed countries’ obsessions to ’control’ the market in third world countries.

This scenario flows rapidly since 1970s. The realizations were through various trade forum and ............... to the meeting in Marakesh, Morocco, on April 1994 – with the signing of trade treaty among governments which known as General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT).
Later, to monitor and control world trade, in 1995 World Trade Organization (WTO) was established as a replacement of GATT. WTO, at this time is a main player in the progress of globalization mechanism.

Critics on globalization have some true points. Thus, it is understandable that leaders from developing countries are often discontented with these situations. Malaysia Prime Minister, Mahathir Muhammad, for example, in front of the United Nations leaders, voiced his sharp critics by stating that the realization of globalization concept is still unfair – in terms that it benefits the rich countries.

PR Strategy

But in this occasion, I do not have intention to discuss globalization from political point of view. I just want to scrutinize the following facts. KFC, currently have not less than 11,000 outlets in more than 80 countries. KFC fried chicken is consumed by around 8 millions people. In Indonesia, KFC has become a generic name for flour covered fried chicken product.

Meanwhile, other ten millions of people in 200 countries engaged in consumption of various soft drinks manufactured by The Coca Cola company. And the same McDonald’s restaurants have become the favorite place for young generation to hang-out for hours.

To achieve these are not easy tasks – and impossible to be done without smart PR (Public Relations) strategy. And it is not cheap either.

McDonald’s, for example, is rumored have spent U$ 2 billions on promotion. But this is followed by their smart PR to thrust the topics on health in their campaign. One of these strategies is the involvement as sponsor in international sport events.

For example, Olympic Day Run – the run to commenmorate Olympic Day which routinely conducted on June rotatively in 150 countries. Currently, McDonald’s have been recorded as main sponsor of the coming Olympic Games 2004 in Athens.

The choices on sport and health topics are correct. Because McDonald’s often received critics in relation to the high cholesterol and carsinogenic ingredients in the food products – which if true, hazzardous to health.

Meanwhile, KFC smartly choose public figures to promote their products. The latest is Annika Sorenstam – female golf player, who won US open championship twice. KFC also target high rating TV shows to advertise, in example Friends, American Idol or Fear Factor.

In Indonesia, Coca Cola with theme ’Semangat Lagi’ rope in a number of musicians and teens idols as stars in their advertisements.

The purpose is to implant an image to their consumers, that Coca Cola makes their lives a success as what they experience now.

The above examples show that PR with smart communications are not only capable to support marketing of a product, but they also play important roles in ’value creation’ of a product or brand, developing close relationship between manufacturer and consumer, which in the end reaping consumer’s trust.

It should be underlined that communication should be conducted in global scale, thus the ’intimate relationship’ achieved would be able to break the barriers of border of a country.
PR, with its strength to communicate beyond borders, is indeed capable of ’uniting the world’ and giving important meanings to globalization process.

This is depend on how to focus the strength of PR into instruments which capable to realize globalization concept in positive interpretation – not only ’domination’ of manufacturers and producers in developed countries on consumers in developing countries.

It also gives access, thus products of third world countries could be accepted by consumers in powerful countries.


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