The Research Is In: Americans Love McDonald’s More Than Jesus

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[An expansion on Wired’s excellent article theorizing about the biggest business partnership since Johnson & Johnson…]

As Phil Cooke put it, there’s no question that McDonald’s restaurants have enormous influence in our culture. Some sources indicate that Ronald McDonald is the most widely recognized name among small children, and when the sign says “billions served” you can count on it. That kind of influence in the culture is the Holy Grail for business leaders.

While we’re talking about Holy Grails:

Any American who has traveled more than 10 miles from their home has seen the ubiquity of McDonalds outposts with their own eyes. If ever asked to opine on the matter, I would suggest that in the U.S.,  there are few institutions with greater reach than Ronald McDonald.

And I would have been very, very wrong. There is a statistic provided by The Barna Group that is startling, and has sparked a fascinating theological debate (yes: Jesus and Ronald are at it again…)

According to the Barna Group research:
For every McDonald’s in America, there are roughly 19 churches.

McD-v-God_pieChartQuoting David Kinnaman of Barna Group:

“Think about that for a moment: If there are 19 churches for every one McDonalds, why does the church today have so little influence in our culture?  Obviously its not just a numbers game, but when it comes to “presence” the church should have a much greater influence.

“The comparison was very striking to me. What about you? Why does the church have so many “offices in the field,” but has so little influence in the culture?”

This is wandering deep into apples-and-oranges territory, but if we put aside our own beliefs and biases we can ponder a profound question: what does all this say about the United States and what we’ve  become?

 

Discuss. Then a quick poll question…

 

Next slide, please:

 

Exhibit A:

Studies Show American Kids Recognize Ronald McDonald More Than Jesus

 


 

Exhibit C:

Report Says Americans Love One Brand More Than All Others:

Did you guess ‘McDonalds’?

 


 

Can’t Put Your Phone Down During Dinner? Try Picking Up The Check.

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Can't put down your smartphone during dinner? Try picking up the check.

Many people, young and old, complain about how technology is doing this or that to their lives. Writers bemoan the loss of real connections, or whatever they think people did before phones/the Internet/computers ruined everything.

Last weekend, for example, the New York Times ran three separate articles on getting away from the plague of always-on communications, as Atlantic contributor Nathan Jurgenson noted.

“In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time,” Pico Iyer wrote. “The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug.”

no mobile phone signFor the past couple of days, a great example of this kind of thinking has been making its way around the Tumblr ecosystem. A San Francisco dancer named Brian ‘Lil B’ Perez and his friends came up with a game to constrain their cellphone use when they’re out having dinner.

Here are the simple rules:


Don’t Be A Di*k During Meals With Friends

The first person to crack and look at their phone picks up the check. Our (initial) purpose of the game was to get everyone off the phones free from Twitter/Facebook/texting and to encourage conversations.

Rules of the Game:

  1. The game starts after everyone has ordered.
  2. Everybody places their phone on the table face down.
  3. The first person to flip over their phone loses the game.
  4. Loser of the game pays for the bill.
  5. If the bill comes before anyone has flipped over their phone everybody is declared a winner and pays for their own meal.

 


That seems like about the right level of social conditioning necessary to make people think about their technology use. Not soulful wailing, but collective ribbing.

The Internet in 2011 by the numbers [Royal Pingdom]

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2011 - global internet users by region

So what happened with the Internet in 2011? How many email accounts were there in the world in 2011? How many websites? How much did the most expensive domain name cost? How many photos were hosted on Facebook? How many videos were viewed to YouTube?

The website Royal Pingdom has posted answers to these questions and many more, providing a veritable smorgasbord of numbers, statistics and data about the state of the Internet in 2011.

Some of Royal Pingdom’s stats for the Internet in 2011:

Websites

  • 555 million – Number of websites (December 2011).
  • 300 million – Added websites in 2011.

Internet users

  • 2.1 billion – Internet users worldwide.
  • 922.2 million – Internet users in Asia.
  • 476.2 million – Internet users in Europe.
  • 271.1 million – Internet users in North America.
  • 215.9 million – Internet users in Latin America / Caribbean

Social media

  • 800+ million – Number of users on Facebook by the end of 2011.
  • 200 million – Number of users added to Facebook during 2011.
  • 350 million – Number of Facebook users that log in to the service using their mobile phone.
  • 225 million – Number of Twitter accounts.
  • 100 million – Number of active Twitter users in 2011.
  • 18.1 million – People following Lady Gaga. Twitter’s most popular user.
  • 250 million – Number of tweets per day (October 2011).

Read the full article with all the numbers on Royal Pingdom

Picture of the Day: The UnFacebook World?

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Artist Ian Wojtowicz created this map by mashing together two existing portrayals of the world, NASA’s The Earth at Night and Facebook’s Friendship Map. By “subtracting” the Facebook map (blacked out areas) from the NASA map, Wojtowicz reveals the parts of the world that are lit up at night but are not linked in to the global social network of Facebook. They appear in bright yellow, in places such as Russia, the Northeast of Brazil, China, Japan, and parts of the Middle East.

See more Pictures of the Day from The Atlantic Online…


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What I learned living off Internet coupons for seven days straight

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We live in a Golden Age of Coupons. Every morning when I open my email, I see offers from Gilt City, Daily Candy, Living Social, and Groupon scattered among news briefings and actual correspondence. I signed up for these missives because I love a good deal, but for the most part I delete them unread; I can’t forget my mother’s folk wisdom: You can go broke buying wholesale.

I guess not everyone’s mother told them that: Groupon, the best known of the Internet-discount services, was valued at $30 billion in its June IPO.

Intrigued by this ludicrously large sum, I resolved to stop ignoring Groupon’s emails and to see what all the fuss was about. Because I’m fitfully prone to extremes, I also decided to test the usefulness of Groupon on a micro scale. For one full week, I spent money on only Groupon deals. Groupon was, effectively, my sole currency.

First I implemented a few ground rules:

  1. I limited my spending to $200, a number meant to encapsulate all my non-rent/non-recurring-payment expenses, including food, and to be roughly equivalent to what I spend in a normal week.
  2. I did allow myself a few emergency purchases like a subway pass, toilet paper, etc., and loaded up on groceries beforehand.
  3. I could use only newly purchased Groupons, not stockpiled ones, and
  4. My goal was to spend them all within the seven-day period.

    (One of the genius/terrible aspects of Groupon, depending on your perspective, is that people often fail to use them before they expire—resulting in a burgeoning secondary market. I wanted to avoid this particular kind of suckerdom.)

Read how his week turned out in the full article on Slate.com…