There’s a foodnami brewing around the fate of McDonalds in two very different French locales, offering a study in social sentiment analysis and audience segmenting that will be important for any retailer with multiple locations to take note of. It’s a tale of two locales with lots of twists and turns!

Learning from the Largest

McDonalds is, of course, recognized worldwide. It’s the largest fast food chain in the world, with 35,000 locations globally. And its sentiment is all over the map as well, with a Net Sentiment score (a measure of positivity or negativity, from -100 to 100) from the past month hovering around 30, with lots of love evident besides:

But to look at the global insight only offers part of the story. It’s all relative, of course – and McDonalds undoubtedly monitors its online presence closely, as should all food retailers (they watch McDonalds as well as their own social sentiment). Seeing how sentiment unfolds around the largest fast food chain offers competitive intelligence snapshots everyone can learn from.

And how the food conglomerate is faring in two French provinces offers a telling case in point.

Tale of Two Locales

This tale of two locales, idyllic Île d’Oléron and hard-scrabble Marseille, offers very distinct opportunities for community relations for both the larger corporation and the local franchise owners.

The picturesque French isle, Île d’Oléron, “the second-biggest island off mainland France after Corsica, is a major tourist destination, where the population swells from 22,000 in winter to more than 300,000 in August.” And the folks inhabiting this island are fighting to keep McDonalds far from its sought after shores.

Reminiscent of, and hoping to channel the same spirited community activism from, José Bové, the pipe-smoking French activist and sheep farmer who successfully beat back McDonalds under the banner of anti-globalisation nearly twenty years ago, the town, led by its Mayor Grégory Gendre views McDonalds as threat not only to their sustainable way of life, but to the island’s very existence.

“This is not war, it’s just common sense,” said Gendre in his office at the town hall. “McDonald’s represents yesterday’s way of doing things – it’s the coal mining of food, utterly outdated.”

Gendre said the Île de Oléron would be the first to suffer from rising sea levels and the increasing amount of plastic waste washing up at sea. “If we want to survive as an island, we have to do things differently,” he said.

Gendre seeks to provide a sustainable, organic “McDol” option in its place, and a food distributor able to cater to this need would be wise to swoop in. Or maybe McDonalds could branch off into the organic arena. It’s certainly a trend to watch worldwide, regardless.

This sentiment contrasts sharply though with the people of Marseille, who are fighting to keep their local McDonalds open. This working-class, largely immigrant neighborhood is similar to its affluent friends in Oléron in that, they too, are not fighting alongside the corporation, but against it.

You see, the franchise wants to sell this location to a new owner and McDonalds supports this decision. Fearing their jobs would disappear, workers have fought for months to challenge the sale claiming the fast food giant has provided “an alternative to the area’s pervasive drug trade” and had become key to the fabric of the community. So as hard as Oléron is fighting to keep the fast food chain away, the folks in Marseille are fighting to make McDonalds stay.

And so far, the court has agreed, leaving Middle Eastern foods operator, Hali Food, scratching its head around the decision and wondering what’s next.

The people of Marseille are thrilled, viewing this as a fight the people are waging – and winning.

What are the franchise owners and McDonalds, as a whole, to do in such a situation? Consulting the sentiment and seeing an opportunity to enhance both its local and country-wide reputation through an understanding with Marseille could be an option to consider. And enlisting a local, influential artist somehow, may offer a potential way to do so . . . and finding these influencers is a matter of seeing who bubbles up in a sentiment analysis search:

Changing the narrative from one where the corporation is working against the people to one where the socially aware enterprise listens, values and works with the people (in either location) is entirely possible when one is tuning in to the right channel.

With so many opportunities surfacing merely from digging a bit into the stories surrounding two towns in France, can you imagine the sheer volume of excellent options out there for retailers in every category? Beyond how it tastes, who knew fast food could evoke such strong sentiment online? We knew. We see it every day. And you should be too.

Reach out and we’ll show you how to join the ranks of smart social sentiment readers, like McDonalds, and stay ahead of (or even be aware of) strong feelings that relate to you!


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