Jack Greenberg
In February of 2001, then Chief Executive Officer of McDonald's Corporation Jack Greenberg discussed the burdens and blessings of global iconhood with Foreign Policy Editor Moses Naim. The excerpts below allow several key issues pertaining to this project to be seen through the eyes of the former top executive of McDonald's Corporation. The interview, entitled "McAtlas Shrugged," is available in its entirety in pdf format.
  • Appeal to Critics of Globalization:
    "We are a decentralized entrepreneurial network of locally owned stores that is very flexible and adapts very well to local conditions. We offer an opportunity to entrepreneurs to run a local business with local people supplied by a local infrastructure. Each creates a lot of small businesses around them."

  • Criticism of McDonald's by French Politicians:
    "I don't think it would be productive to respond directly to the French politicians you mentioned (see quotes by Chirac & Jospin on José Bové page). But I can tell you that the people who voted them into office are eating at McDonald's. Those French farmers they support are selling to McDonald's restaurants. We buy everything from French farmers."

  • McDonald's Involvement in France:
    "Think about how the consumers are behaving in France. What do the people do? Do they not vote with their feet? Are those restaurants not owned by French? Are they not buying French farmers' products? Are they not creating jobs for the advertising agency, the construction company, the real estate agent, the lawyers, the accountants? Do they not create jobs for thousands of kids who, in France in particular, have had a hard time getting into the workforce? I mean, this is a fabulous story for France. It's not being told by some of the people you quoted. But it is a wonderful story, not something we should be ashamed of or embarrassed about."

  • Value of Global Brand Name:
    "It's not in our balance sheet. A McDonald's board member who worked at Coca-Cola once talked to us about the value of our brand. He said if every asset we own, every building, and every piece of equipment were destroyed in a terrible natural disaster, we would be able to borrow all the money to replace it very quickly because of the value of our brand. And he's right. The brand is more valuable than the totality of all these assets."

  • Declining Corporate Fortunes:
    "All the evidence contradicts what he's saying about McDonald's in decline. Over the last three years, our U.S. business has increased its net income by 9 or 10 percent each year on a base that's huge. In 2000, we had nearly $200 billion in sales in the United States. We opened several hundred restaurants around the world."

  • José Bové:
    "José Bové and a handful of terrorists are more interested in using McDonald's as a convenient symbol than in understanding the facts behind our business."

  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs):
    "In markets where our customers really feel strongly about this and want to avoid GMOs, we don't use them. In the United States, we do use some because they're in one third of the corn product and, I don't know, in half or a third of U.S. soybean crops, which obviously serve as some basis for our food supply."


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