McLuhan and McAdvertising: All franchising franchises franchising

McLuhanMcDonaldOne of Canada’s greatest and most controversial thinkers was Marshall McLuhan.

WIRED magazine named him their patron saint; their Holy Fool.

Let’s look at only one of his quotes: All advertising advertises advertising.

Several obvious and not-so-obvious levels of meanings.

The most transparent meaning that McLuhan was trying to get across could be that:

  • by producing something you are encouraging the promulgation of more of the same.

McLuhan just loved puns and word play. As primarily a verbal instructor, engaged in wordsmithing, maybe using his methods can test the merit of the close ties between the words “franchising” and “advertising”.

1. All franchising franchises advertising: certainly Bob Purvin has demonstrated with his analysis of Super Bowl advertisers that franchising feeds the advertising industry in a very direct and substantial way. Required concentration of brand marketing dollars is a hallmark of almost all franchise systems.

2. All franchising advertises franchising: The visible brick and mortar store can conceal the rapidly churning franchisee ownership to the public.

3. All franchising advertises advertising: All non-franchising businesses must take into account the unique ability for franchised chains to concentrate advertising and brand clout. In some vertical markets, non-franchised models are only niche and local players.

4. All franchises franchise franchising: The choice of distribution model is in itself promoted as a near de facto guarantee of less risk and higher ROI for investors. This is routinely repeated informally by salesmen although expressly denied in any written documentation.

McLuhan helped me understand the primacy of:

  • the franchise relationship (the space/closeness, ties between) rather than the
  • physical or visible logos or tangibles.

Franchising is not supported by stone like a Greek column: It is held in balance by tension between cables of words.

Its only permanence is based on the assumptions, language,  and lack of education of those unaware of its nature.

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