The pro-American inference is that the ubiquity of these American icons is evidence of American 'soft power' (a term coined by Joseph Nye in Foreign Policy in 1990) and proves that the rest of the world either loves and aspires to the American way of life or is jealous and hypocritically denounces Americanisation while secretly craving it.
From JohnQuiggin talking about McDonalds and soft-power : (Compare http://www.johnquiggin.com/archives/001503.html (Compare : AntiAmericanism)
But it's not clear what direction the causation is meant to go in. Is it meant to be that soft-power causes the economic success of franchises like McDonalds? And that Quiggin is debunking that theory because there are straight economic explanations for success?
But surely the soft-power is the economic success. The two are not separable. Culture influences people's buying. Business pays advertisers and influences the cultural sphere. The market success gives companies the economic power to attempt to establish themselves in new countries, which in turn influences how they're perceived everywhere, which can affect further economic success. And there are synergies with BrandAmerica etc.
But there're also economic limits as Quiggin points out.
See also :