Let’s have a look now on what is concerning the McDonaldization four main processes: Calculability, Control, Efficiency and Predictability. The calculability results from the volunteer to create quantity rather than quality, always more and more burgers, more and more restaurants, “Bigger is Better”…The control phase can be understood as monitoring tools to control both employees and customers, try to manage short-time eating, opening hours…The third motto of the Macdonaldization is Efficiency, efficiency in all the working stage of the company.
The final facet of the Mcdonaldization phenomenon is the Predictability, the fact to “ensure that products are standardized and similar irrespective of location. Customers can expect similar-tasting food no matter where they buy their burgers” (Cowen, 2002). It’s a matter of extreme strategic planning. Driving by all these definitions and explanations, It is promptly the moment to analyse how the event industry can be linked with the McDisneyization phenomenon.
Before to begin, it is requested to highlight the common components between both areas. First of all, the globalisation, in these days, events can be internationalised, exported from a country to another. For proof, the most famous games in the world: The Olympic Games, the principle stay the same but the games take place every session in a new country. Another event that can be analysed is the World’s Fair, a large public exhibition, created in 1844 in Paris.
This is a perfect example of a global concept because every three years, the normal periodicity of the event, the world’s fair is changing from host country; the last one was in Shanghai and the next one, in 2015, will take place in Milan (Italy). Sadly these events cannot exactly be associated with our studied phenomenon because they were invented with the intention to be internationalised. Contrary to others events, which like McDonald and Disney, were born small, without simulacra, didn’t planed their fame, have been victim of their success and are now considered at the kings brands of our consumerism world.
For this subject interest, the Telethon could be a way better example of an event that suffered from the McDonaldization. It has been basically created for the United States in order to fundraise money for people attained by the poliomyelitis in Kentucky (so it was really centralised at the very first start). The name Telethon as been created by the fusion of television and marathon and thanks to the televised aspect of the event, the world realised step by step how great was this idea and this event.
Now since more than 30 years now, we have seen a huge rise in the Telethon movement all around the world. Even country like Chile, which are less likely to organise fundraising event than United States, has finally in 25 years, collected approximately 13 255 231 970 pesos which represents the amount of 18 millions euros. It should be interesting now to look at the pure impacts the McDisneyization can have on events and on their organisation.
Radically, the phenomenon have made people more demanding and stressed. We can take the example of Sports events, now when people see a match they want predictability, they want to win, to see a great ending speech just to comfort their dear routine, they do not leave space to the surprise like they used to do before. There is a kind of recurrence. And for proof the events industry is suffering from this. Some events or company may fall into this predictable and rational process of McDisneyization.
They can be discovered thanks to their planning and developing process concerning the event delivery. Some events happen weekly, monthly, and follow a precise and rational structure. To illustrate the previous statement, I would like to put forward the case of the Ministry of Sound; a major British actor of the house music development which has developed across the year a true empire. At the beginning the Ministry of Sound is a company, which owes a club in London and few electronic music labels as well.
Now across the years the brand has enlarged its network. Ministry of Sound has become a flagship for British youth culture. The enterprise includes in 2012, various range of products such as music compilations, clothing line, a radio broadcasted in London, a WebTV, a real Ministry mania has been build along the time. « Saturdays are Ministry of Sounds long-standing Saturday Sessions with house, electro and techno sets from popular DJs including Tiesto, Sasha, Erick Morillo, Pete Tong and David Guetta » (MTV, 2011).
They are duplicating and duplicating their concept in different forms as far as they can, a planning has been implemented, and the events managers of the club are now following a rationalized process to organise the Saturday’s inescapable party. The respective cases of Halloween and Valentine’s Day can be inspected as well as McDonaldizated events. At the beginning they were only American Holiday, and step-by-step they have been transported across the years overseas, they slowly gain popularity all over the globe.
They are pure consequences of the triumph for capitalism, especially for Valentine’s Day that is a real goldmine. Ghouse declare during an interview to the Huffington Post in 2012 that « From an exclusive meaningful rendezvous between two lovers, the Valentine’s Day has turned to be a mere event to secure larger consumption for the bigger corporations ». These repetitions and the recurrence with which the consumers are exposed to this McDonalised events bring them to reveal a dedifferentiated way of consumption.
Events going globals and oppressive saturated people’s mind and demystificate the pure essence of events. When people are going to an event, they are waiting for something Spectacular. Spectacular means according to the Oxford Dictionary 2012, «…impressive or sensational, a single dramatic production of unusual length or lavishness…an elaborate display ». Spectacle creates memories that are exactly why now events are more and more turned into a spectacularisation process, because the industry owners want people to remember them.
If all the events are copied and relayed all the time all around the world and standardized like BigMacs, how would you make people remember yours? The one, which took months to you to organise it? They won’t! For spectators it will only stand for a great Americanised event, nothing more, and the efforts will be negated. Another notion has to be considered at this stage of the discussion it’s the possible Americanisation of the events and its consequences, « …like the Big Mac, Madonna has come to symbolise the Americanisation, homogenisation and globalisation of modern culture » (Courier, Sunday Mail, 2002).
What is really hidden behind the term Americanisation? Authors are numerous to write about this subject but incredibly all their views are slightly converging. The Oxford Dictionnary 2012 defines it by « the act of making or becoming American in outlook, attitudes… ». David Ellwood, in his work Rebuilding Europe (1992), stated that « In historical terms Americanisation appears as a particularly distinctive form of modernisation, superimposed with great political, economic and cultural force…on each European country’s own variant… ».
Finishing with definitions, I will quote Craig, Douglas ; Bennett (2009), who are directly fusioning the Americanization with the American cultural influence ; « American cultural influence is evident throughout the world to varying degrees… countries adopt elements of American culture. Factors related to information, ideas, technology, goods, and capital as well as cultural proximity are used to explain the degree of Americanization a country exhibits…Cultural proximity to the USA was found to be associated with a greater degree of Americanization as evidenced by more McDonald’s per capita.
A country’s openness to trade, as indicated by exports, foreign direct investment, and tourism, negatively influenced consumption of filmed entertainment. A country’s progressiveness was weakly related to the number of McDonald’s ». The terms used are all correlating in the same way. The globalisation is very often used to describe the ascendancy of the phenomenon on our society. Meanwhile the homogenisation will stay the key word of this paper, it’s the clearest impact of the McDisneyization on the international event industry.
Like explained before, the bigger threat of this phenomenon on the event industry is the homogenization, which is completely conflicting with the proper goal of an event. Of course some events like fundraising race like telethon can be McDonaldized without suffering from this image, because of the message its delivering behind, people will never stop coming to the Telethon because they already been there in another city or country, but events like parties, cocktails, buzz events cannot be McDonaldized.
The worst thing the Mcdonaldization can take away from event is the relevant surprise they cherished. People going to an event need to feel the Wow effect, the marvel. All the processes of homogenization can be brought closer to the term of Standardization; define by the Business Dictionary as “Formulation, publication, and implementation of guidelines, rules, and specifications for common and repeated use, aimed at achieving optimum degree of order or uniformity in a given context, discipline, or field ».
The Repeated Use of events is what break the magic, the surprise effect…Unfortunately nowadays standardization is part of our lives, we see standardization in a lots of fields of our daily life, in our way of dressing, living, in the languages, in the media…Somehow the standardization is a good thing for our planet development, the English language standardization enable people to understand each other all around the world, from developed to in development countries.
Nevertheless the standardization of our lifestyles and way of dressing has for example, brought people to lose a part of their identity, everybody is wearing Converse and jeans and nowadays the alternative lifestyles tend to slowly disappear. We will conclude this analysis by saying that trying to choose his side on this battle is struggling. Impacts of both phenomenon are numerous, good ones or really bad ones concerning the whole today’s society and more specially the event management industry.
McDonaldization is synonymous of rationalization, homogenization and standardization, the previous equation is the complete opposite of events creation, McDisneyization and events industry are at the antipodes of each others, the American concept is definitely antagonistic with differentiation, creativity, exception, one-shot time representation…Events that are produced, reproduced, repeated may not remain as original as a Super Bowl opening for example, but couldn’t we see some good finalities within this? The reproduction is a good sign, it means that the first time the event was running it won the public affection.
Additionally the reproduction is a clue of success, a proof that the demand is present and increasing. The Ministry of Sound success is the best model, the Saturday long-lasting sessions are now running for years, and Londoners are still not fed up with these special nights. The quotation of Walters, Raj and Radish, appears here perfect to complete the previous demonstration « Events and festivals have been revolutionised to meet the commercial needs of the market in response to the changing demand of local community groups and increased business opportunities for event organisers and local businesses.
Local authorities are now using events as a major tool to promote their town… » (2009). « Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) have adamantly defended that they are not vehicles of Americanisation and that the result of their actions in neoliberal markets is rather a form of ‘domestication’ through adaptation to local cultures », again here Conversi (2010) prove us that the companies may not have only dominatrix intentions toward our world, we can even go further by saying that it a manner to diffuse the culture accross the globe thanks to these events.
In term of management, it has change a bit the organisation, now instead of creating the pure concept of an event, they are amplifying the experience. With the help of new tendencies like blowing structures, lightening structures the events shapes can still surprise and create the buzz, meanwhile their McDonaldized side. As Bryman said in 2004, “Consumption is no longer the strictly economic act of exchanging money for goods and services, but rather when this economic exchange is deeply imbued into different cultural symbols and meaning”, now its all about a question of experience, this need to be understand by event managers.
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