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What could possibly replace McDonald’s iconic Golden Arches? In the case of its Russian replacement, the answer appears to be orange backslashes.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted McDonald’s to withdraw from the country after more than 30 years, a process that entailed pausing operations, looking for a buyer and “de-arching” its restaurants.
Last month, it announced that the existing licensee Alexander Govor would acquire its 850 Russian locations and operate them under a new brand — as well as retain and pay its 62,000 Russian employees for at least two years.
The rebranded chain is set to open its first 15 locations in the Moscow region on Sunday, followed by another 200 across the country later this month. And while its new name is still under wraps, it has revealed its colorful new logo. Sistema PBO, which manages the chain, confirmed the design to the state outlet TASS on Thursday.
It depicts a small red circle and two orange lines (aka a burger and pair of fries) against a green background, which the spokesperson said represents the quality of the chain’s products and service. Altogether, the three shapes somewhat resemble an abstract letter “M.”
Twitter users have noted its similarity to the logos of other popular brands, including the Japanese chain Mos Burger, Marriott hotels and the Warner Brothers logo from 1972. Others compared it to a drowning stick figure, cricket bats and the flag of Bangladesh.
The spokesperson added that the name of the new chain has not yet been approved. Citing the state newspaper Izvestia, the BBC reports that the company has submitted eight potential names to the Russian government agency in charge of intellectual property. They reportedly include “Tot Samyi,” which translates to “The Same One,” and “Svobodnaya Kassa,” meaning “available cash register.”
Of course, classic menu items will have to be rebranded, too. The Filet-O-Fish will be called a “Fish Burger” and burgers will be known as “Grand” rather than “Royal,” according to the Moscow Times.
The McDonald’s app changed its name to “My Burger” for Russian users on Friday, but the chain’s press team said the change was only temporary, according to Reuters. The app’s home page reportedly featured a slogan reading: “Some things are changing, but stable work is here to stay.”
Kristy Ironside, an economic historian of Russia at McGill University, told NPR’s All Things Considered that the exit of the Golden Arches is in many ways as symbolic as their arrival in 1990.
International newspapers covered the opening of Russia’s first McDonald’s as an example of the Soviet Union embracing capitalist principles, she explained, and images of people lining up to eat at the Pushkin Square location have come to represent that moment of transition and Cold War thawing.
McDonald’s departure represents a new period of isolation for Russia, with thousands of Western companies limiting or ending operations in the country as a result of its invasion of Ukraine. And while its withdrawal could leave thousands of food service and agriculture workers without jobs, Ironside acknowledged, some people in Russia are seeing a silver lining.
“For the more nationalistic types, it’s seen as, you know, maybe a positive symbol that it’s going down because there were people even in the ’90s who were not very happy about the fact that they spread so quickly, that they were, again, sort of proving this capitalist business model,” she explained.
The chain timed its reopening with Russia Day, a national holiday commemorating the 1990 adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Sunday will mark 108 days since Russia launched its full-fledged invasion of Ukraine.
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