The new logo is ready. We see, on a green background, a red circle and two yellow slashes. Everything is supposed to symbolize hamburgers and french fries. Unable to continue using the famous yellow ark of the American fast food chain: McDonald’s withdrew completely from Russia last May due to the war in Ukraine. But it will thus be a fast food brand once again in the famous Pouchkine Square. The new brand name won’t be revealed until Sunday, June 12. However, we do know the owner’s name: Alexandre Joffre. He was a McDonald’s franchisee in Russia and bought most of the company’s 850 restaurants. And announces the reopening of 15 of them as of this date, all in the Moscow region, and then reopening everywhere in the country within two months.
Why is it not anecdotal? Firstly because of the chosen date: this Sunday is thus “Russia’s Day”, and is the last public holiday in the country. It refers to the country’s assertion of its independence in 1990 from the Soviet Union. In the midst of war with Ukraine, it will be a chance to explode patriotism with strong flags flying in the streets and honoring the armed forces. The reopening of a fast food restaurant on Pushkin Square, on the same day, is a way of saying that Russia is resisting sanctions and maintaining a form of normalcy.
It is also a symbol because the American brand is an icon in Russia. McDonald’s is a very special story. When the Iron Curtain fell and the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1990, the American chain was one of the first Western brands to land in Russia with this restaurant in Pouchkine Square. Everyone is free to judge whether the Russians then took the best or the worst from the West. Nevertheless, the yellow emblem became an emblem of the country’s openness, and a symbol of “perestroika”. The Russians rushed. Over the years, McDonald’s has opened 850 restaurants across the country and employed more than 60,000 people when the war broke out last February. Then Russia alone accounted for 9% of the brand’s sales volume worldwide.
At the beginning of March, soon after the conflict began, the fast-food chain was the subject of calls for a boycott, like many other Western businesses. Then it suspended its activities. Then last month, the group’s CEO announced a complete withdrawal from Russia, for “Be consistent with our values”. Since then, almost all of its restaurants in the country have closed, to the chagrin of many Russian customers.
So, reopening the Pouchkine places, it’s a bit of an indication that the paths of Russia and the West are now separate. With one downside: the American company has its back. On the other hand, there are still some yellow-marked signs, especially at stations and airports in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, due to a special agreement with the concessionaire, Rosinter, at least until next year. On the other hand, the fast food chain has kept its brand in the Commercial Register in Russia. Spare her the possibility of returning, during the virtual post-war period.