Jose Bove has long been known as a staunch opponent of globalization as it currently exists. A very vocal and very active politician, Bove has had a long series of stunts, plots and rallies in which he counters what he views as the Americanization of the world. One particular demonstration of Bove’s stands out as especially iconic; in 1999, in the small French town of Millau, Bove led a group of supporters in destroying a McDonald’s franchise that was under construction. An especially visceral demonstration, footage exists of Bove and his team literally taking the building apart, piece by piece. This destruction in Millau exists today as one of the most popular anti-McDonald’s demonstrations in recent years.
More important than the loss of a McDonald’s franchise, however, is what Bove’s actions represent. McDonald’s, that of the ubiquitous logo and unavoidable presence, has come to represent a Western, big-company takeover of the global market. Consumers and activists alike have rejected McDonald’s as a symbol of Americanization and cultural imperialism. Interestingly, however, McDonald’s is not even the world’s largest chain; rather, Subway Restaurants have the most franchises in the world. However, Subway has intriguingly managed to avoid the label of cultural imperialist. As we will see, various other factors have contributed to Subway’s under-the-radar success. But on a surface level, it cannot go unsaid how important McDonald’s failures have been to Subway’s expansion. By avoiding the label of cultural imperialist that has befallen their competitor, Subway Restaurants have become the largest chain in the world.