The Conspiracy

McIsrael Speaks: The Big America Burger

Obama blesses Israel because of its Big America burger

What could be funnier than watching an Israeli McDonald’s commercial that features a troop of Secret Service agents rounding up Israeli teenagers in order to whip up a burger and fries for President Obama?

Watching the same exact commercial, but from 2008, with a certain ex-President Bush receiving the burger and fries.

That’s right. McDonald’s ripped themselves off, and re-edited the exact same footage, but this time with an oddly off-kilter President Obama’s face. The other main difference between the two commercials is that when Bush receives his McOrder, he does a goofy Texas chuckle and thanks them for being open. But Obama says, “God Bless Israel, for the Big America.” Which brings me to my next point: the Big America burger.

Update: Between the time of writing this article and posting it, McDonald’s Israel has made their Vimeo commercial archives private. God Bless YouTube.

I did a little bit of snooping (before the account was rendered un-snoopable) and found out a little more about this new commodity. The latest slew of McD commercials feature something called a “Big America” burger—with each burger being named after a different city or district in America. The premise of the commercial is that when someone eats the “Big America” burger, they become the place that they have just consumed. A boa-wearing flapper sits in place of the Big Broadway burger, another girl is transformed into the Statue of Liberty as she takes her bite.

I’m still left feeling a little confused; what does McIsrael mean when they say “Big” America? Does that play on words refer to our status as an overbearing hegemonic empire? Our rapidly growing obesity statistics? Could it just mean that the burgers pack a Big American punch (maybe playing on the trope of Wild West rugged individualism)?

My interested sparked, I began trolling through the various archives of Israeli McDonald’s commercials, curious to see the other ways in which ‘America’ was invoked as an advertising method. And, as I suspected, signifiers of the Red, White, and Blue abounded. In fact, in many of the commercials, it was unclear whether it was an advertisement for McDonald’s food or America itself.

The McChicken wrap was advertised via a customer rapping. The video has been disabled online so I will do my best to describe it succinctly: In the commercial, a meek Israeli tries to order a McChicken wrap, but the cashier is unable to comprehend him. This problem is solved when another customer pushes him aside, and raps the order. Somehow, rapping becomes the way to speak American, to bridge the gap between Israel and McDonald’s. Though the commercial is completely in Hebrew, the rapper begins his rap with an English “hit it, bring the beat c’mon,” which feels like a tangled mosh of what people would say right before going into freestyle, but only if the only freestyling they had ever seen was from watching a movie about people freestyling.

In another one, the “ten-shekel-meal” is advertised through an American astronaut’s dramatic ten-count Lift Off. His coins fly through the de-gravitized air toward the cashier, as an ominous voice counts down “ten-nine-eight…” I never thought I would see NASA invoked in a McDonald’s ad– and that is largely the point. For us, in America, NASA isn’t what it means to be American. For Israelis, I guess, it does.

What is prescient from these examples is how various symbols of American Life are used in certain moments to sell both a product and a way of life. It is interesting to see how McDonald’s markets itself in Israel by linking itself to American symbols. Whether its the Secret Service, president Obama, NASA, or hip hop— these are the ways that the outsider can come to recognize something American. These are the ways that those Golden Arches have come to be so successfully synonymous with the flag itself.

And now, it is through the word ‘Big.’ As I said before, either a testament to our “greatness” or a parody of our fall.

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