Post 6: #FastFoodAd: Scraping on Twitter – People’s thought and response to Fast Food Industry

Written by Meiying Lin

With the development of technology, Social Media becomes an indispensable element of daily life, it brings together the news, trends and best practices around enterprise social and digital marketing, and provide people opportunities to empower themselves and share their thoughts in an open public platform. Twitter is one of the most popular online social networking services nowadays, it allows user to send and read ‘Tweets’, which are messages of up to 140 characters that can contain images, video and web links. Twitter has described as ‘the SMS of the Internet’ because the user can always access Twitter through SMS as well as website interface and mobile device application. Beyond that, every user’s information and tweets are forced to be public, registered users can read and post tweets, on the other hand, unregistered user can only read tweets. Because of these, News on Twitter breaking faster than anywhere else. Until March 2016, Twitter has more than 310 million monthly active users.

Believe it or not, Twitter has become one of the most powerful database systems at present. Recently, I have been working on the issue of Obesity and Healthy Living, specific in food industry and fast food advertisement. To push my research forward and to insight more people’s thought and response, I did an advance research on Twitter with a number of keywords included ‘fast food’ with ‘ad’/ ‘advertisement’/ ‘advertising’/ ‘packaging’/ ‘design’ / ‘industry’. All data must be written in English only, and can from anywhere in the world. The data were collected from 25 August to 3 September. The map below is the flow chart of my research process.

flow chart of process – Twitter Advance Research

Within this web scraping practice, I gained a total of 607 Tweets in the result. It is obvious to see the fast food advertisement and the fast food industry has become a very popular topic nowadays. Most of the outcomes are negative, I can see people are not happy with the strong and successful fast food industry nowadays. The GIF below is the outcome of my research.

Outcome of Twitter Advance Research (*click to view full version)

I summarised the outcome into five key points with a few relevant Tweets.

1.  The fast food industry spent a lot of money on advertising and made themselves looks great, however some of the advertisement which aim at children might have some negative influence on children

#locad_interesting Fast food companies in the U.S. spent about $2 billion in #advertising in 2015. #marketing #media”   – @LocadSmm

RT @youngevity: “Last year the fast food industry spent over $4 billion on advertising. Now that’s some #food for thought.…”   – @Morgantlvory

The U.S fast-food industry spends approximately $1.6Billion each year on marketing aimed at children -Federal Trade Commission”   -@FitnessRetweets

@ChangeMillieu I sick of big fast food franchises advertising to kids on tv for a start. They get a 100% write off. Tax payer funded adverts”   – @CashAnonymous

As I see it, fast food outfits have targeted small children with their advertising in a ve #AnthonyBourdain #quotes”   – @RussoRussel

It is obvious to see the excessive fast food advertisement has become a worldwide issue, fast food advertisements are anywhere in social media. People are complaining fast food companies spend too much money on advertising. Beyond that, the fast food companies also target children by providing them discounts, such as buy one get one free, and toys for children. Because of that, more and more people are worrying these might affect children’s eating habit. The influence of fast food advertisement in children’s eating habit has become is a very popular topic a long while. These tweets above has been retweeted many times.

2. Lots of people hate fast food industry, especially for those advertised by celebrities.

@andresless how do you kindly say “fuck you and your fast food industry?””   -@whos_eva

@Jemmyjems_ the fast food industry is being corrupted by haram, so sad”   -@Jeregyptan

RT @myhairisblue: ME: the fast food industry is a systematic plague on our society MY CRUSH: i’m hungry for fries ME:…”   -@karenstein_bear

I grew up on McDonald’s – didn’t make the connection. The fast food industry are deceptive murderers.”   – @TereAlbanese

#Advertising What a single Tweet from kanyewest did for McDonalds — Twitter Advertising (TwitterAds) September 2…”   -@Advertis_1ng

Lots of people expressed their abominated and discontented about their thought of fast food industry on Twitter. Some of their attitudes were a little bit rude, they use the F-word on their Tweets to fast food industry. Furthermore, people are not happy with celebrities to preach up the fast food branding. Kanye West apparently random Twitter proclamation that his favourite brand is McDonald, which has been retweeted many times. It is undeniable that could be a great marketing moment for the fast food chain. A research showed that McDonald’s Twitter mentions went up 900% from the hour before Kanye sent out his proclamation to the hour after. However, lots of people were retweeted with a negative comment. People don’t like celebrities advertising fast food branding.

3. Some fast food advertisements seem not that appropriate.

I know it sounds a bit pedantic but its odd to me that Panthers are advertising cheap fast food when they’re a sport team? #Fatpanthers”   -@laura4m11

I completely agree with this tweet. A sports team should not represent to a fast food branding as these could mislead lots of people, especially teenage and young adults and affect their eating habit. In fact, this kind of situation is happening all around the world, this has been shown through the Australian Olympic delegation is representing McDonald; and a very popular sport racing TV show in China called ‘The Amazing Race’ is also representing McDonalds. This is NOT appropriate!

4. Some people think more policies need to be made to strict the fast food advertisement.

If advertising for cigarettes is not appropriate then why is advertising for chocolates, chips, fast food etc appropriate”   -@feelcheatedcom

There are a few people are proposing this issue recently. For instance, Sam Ikin, an online producer for ABC News Digital based in Hobart wrote a news article about this issue over a month ago. Lots of people agreed with Sam, however, the related government departments still NOT pay close attention of this proposal yet. This has disappointed lots of people.

5. Some people think government need to make some measures to support healthy fast food advertisement, while in fact not that many people care about it.

RT @VLubev: Agree with Corbyn on fast food. We should support healthy fast food, as Corbyn has supported the Kebab Industry Awards. #Salad”   -@thatsmabhoy

It is obvious to see the lack of regulation in fast food advertisement. Under the circumstances, supporting healthy fast food industry and advertisement could be a good way to correct people’s eating habit and reduce the obesity rate. Unfortunately, this issue is NOT in popular demand, this has been shown through a ZERO retweet of the tweet.

After the advance research, I gained plenty valuable data and information about people’s thought and response of the fast food industry and the fast food advertisement. Before I am done this web scraping research, I was thinking to design a proposal that against the fast food branding. However, there were already too many articles and news about this issue and I think people already aware the harm of eating fast food. Therefore, for my future visual design, I would like to design a proposal to support the healthy fast food industry.

Zuhora, F. 2016, 5+ Best Twitter Extension for Joomla, Image, viewed at 2 September 2016, <>.
Long, M. 2013, Seven Things Unique To Twitter, Social Times, viewed at 2 September 2016, <>.
Castillo, M. 2016, What Kanye West's pro-McDonald's tweet did for the fast-food giant, CNBC, viewed at 2 September 2016, <>.
Gill, A. 2016, The honest conversation we need to have about fat people, News, 2 August, viewed 2 August 2016, <>.
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