The marketing of Kentucky fried chicken in China shows a good example of the role of representation and its interplay with issues of culture, identity, and power in generating meaning. The marketing of Kentucky fried chicken in China also shows how a firm or business can align its objectives and strategies with the culture of the target market. This strategy has enabled Kentucky fried chicken to be a bigger household name in China than coca-cola and McDonald's
Representation is the expansive process by which cultural meaning is generated and given shape. Kentucky fried chicken seems to have used this process into making its forays into China. Something is given power by how well it is represented, meaning that the success or failure of a business venture mainly depends on how well such a business is represented.
Representation is predicated on power because it propagates the same inequalities inherent in any social system. It also implies that public relations practitioners have great power in their work. Representation is intrinsic in any material they prepare, any document they write, and any activity they undertake; each of these tasks is encoded with cultural meaning and informs a particular discourse. Kentucky fried chicken was able to be successful because of how it was represented in China, by being in line with the cultures and identities of China.
KFC's emergence in that country was so different from that of any other fast food chain that some people held wedding parties in their stores. In sum, KFC was decoded as a signifier of modernity and advancement. Indeed, the president of KFC's parent company in China remarked, "In many parts of China, the local municipal governments view the arrival of a KFC as a sign of the city coming of age."
The representation of Kentucky fried chicken into China has transformed the fast food chain into a fast food superpower in Asia and mostly China in a particular. Kentucky fried chicken made a genius move when entering the Chinese market by opting to use only dark meat when making its chicken burgers.
The company's management understood that the Chinese do not like white meat hence if they used such meat no one would buy them. Kentucky fried chicken seems to have embedded itself with the Chinese cultures to serve their customers well. The localization of the company's products enabled it to be well represented and at the end, it benefited well by having a loyal customer base in China.
Kentucky fried chicken changed American dishes such as coleslaw and mashed potatoes which aren't familiar to Chinese, so they were replaced with foods consonant with the Chinese palate, including a shredded carrot, fungus, and bamboo shoot salad; rice porridge; and a soup made of spinach, egg, and tomato. This move was meant to a line the company's products with the Chinese culture since having unwanted American dishes could have alienated the company.
One result is the development of a new understanding of what KFC is in markets such as China. A simple understanding is that KFC is a fast food chain that sells chicken. Even here, however, discursive struggles embody the contestation of meaning. "Fast food" as it's known in the United States isn't a representation that might be consistent with Chinese cultural norms. KFC ceases to be only about food, then; it becomes a site for cultural clashes that, not surprisingly, relegate power to elevated status.
The president of KFC's parent company in China, Samuel Su, said after KFC opened its first drive-through store in 2002, "KFC is capitalizing on China's increased mobility, fast-paced lifestyle, greater consumer spending power and desire for luxury items such as automobiles.
KFC becomes a site where a culture of corporate power competes with traditional Chinese cultures and values. This type of struggle is common in globalization, another contested term with multiple conflicting meanings. In this case, KFC both contributes to the culture of what it means to be Chinese and nullifies it. It becomes a U.S. symbol appropriated for Chinese consumption, making it both propel Chinese culture and change it; some say that change is for better, others for worse. Traditional Chinese culture through food is forever modified by a foreign interloper, the KFC representation of chicken.
Kentucky fried chicken has succeeded in making the Asian market want its products, by neither being whole United States or distinctively Asian. Its hybrid approach has brought forward the view that it is an international company which does not belong to any single country. This move has enabled the company to succeed where other companies such as Coca-Cola and McDonald failed, shading the American tag. Most people in Asia still refer to coca cola and McDonalds as American companies, something that has prevented the companies from being successful; in countries such as China.
Galapagos Islands Ecotourism
The Galapagos Islands lie in Latin America in Ecuador and represents the richest biodiversity of any area in the world. The area includes parts of Amazon rainforest and the Andes Mountains. Ecuador looks at the Galapagos Islands as the only way of diversifying its economy to stop depending on oil and bananas. The government looks to increase tourism to the islands to boost the economy that depends mainly on oil and bananas.
In the late 1990s, the government of Ecuador began heavily investing in the Galapagos by promoting tourism based on the islands' natural beauty and wildlife. That promotion has come with a price, however; as tourism increased, so did international pressure to preserve the islands. The government was also aiming at creating more jobs as it looked at the prospecting of changing the economy to stop depending on one source.
The Ecuador government was committed at impressing international observers such as the United Nations who want the islands preserved. The government limited fishing on the island, a move that was greeted by protests from the fishermen. Moreover, To curry favor with international groups such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, the government also instituted tourism regulations that required a naturalist to accompany every tour group and prohibited bringing food, pets, and plants to the islands.
The islands represent a well-balanced eco-tourism, whereby the relationship is symbiotic, reflecting the willingness of the government to balance the need for economic growth and also the need to preserve the millions of species of wildlife on the islands.
Despite the positive image presented by the Ecuador government, trouble is brewing as in recent years; fishers have held tortoise's captive, rioted, and vandalized national park offices until fishing quotas were overturned. In 2004, fishers blockaded the entrance to the Charles Darwin Research Station to protest a law protecting the waters of the Galapagos Islands from overfishing. In 2005, 40 turtles were found dead on the island of Isabella, presumably killed by locals for food. One local Fisher told a CNN reporter, "An animal is worth a lot more than a human being. Here, one tortoise, one bird, one sea lion, has more value than a human baby".
The Ecuador government wants to represent itself to international observers who are focused on making sure that it works hard to preserve the nature of the islands. The constructed version of the Galapagos Islands creates one discourse that's simultaneously affected by the other organizations, notably tourism operators, who are creating their discourses.
The government encroachment of Galapagos Islands represents a challenge because international observers want to make sure that the species present in the islands are preserved despite the government motive of creating tourism resorts in the area.
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