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What could 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 pull out of the country after more than 30 years, a process that involved suspending operations, searching for a buyer and “de-arranging” its restaurants.
Last month it announced that existing incumbent 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 renowned 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 unveiled its colorful new logo. Sistema PBO, which runs the chain, confirmed the design to the TASS public outlet on Thursday.
It features a small red circle and two orange lines (aka a burger and a pair of fries) on a green background, which the spokesperson says represents the quality of the chain’s products and service. In total, the three shapes somewhat resemble an abstract letter “M”.
Twitter users have noted its similarity to the logos of other popular brands, including Japanese chain Mos Burger, Marriott hotels and the Warner brothers logo from 1972. Others have compared it to a drowning stick figurecricket bats and the flag of Bangladesh.
The spokesperson added that the name of the new channel has not yet been approved. Citing the state-run Izvestia newspaper, the BBC reports that the company has submitted eight potential names to the Russian government agency in charge of intellectual property. They would include “Tot Samyi”, which translates to “The same”, and “Svobodnaya Kassa”, which means “cash register available”.
Of course, classic menu items will also need to be renamed. According to Times of Moscow.
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 homepage reportedly featured a tagline: “Some things change, but steady work is here to stay.”
Kristy Ironside, a historian of Russian economics at McGill University, told NPR All things Considered that leaving Les Arches d’Or 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’s adherence to capitalist principles, she said, and the images of people queuing to eat in Pushkin Square have come to represent this moment of transition and thawing of the Cold War.
McDonald’s departure represents a new period of isolation for Russia, with thousands of Western companies limiting or ending their operations in the country following its invasion of Ukraine. And while its withdrawal could leave thousands of restaurant and agricultural workers out of work, Ironside acknowledged, some people in Russia see 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 weren’t very happy with the fact that they spread so quickly, that they were, again, kind of proving this capitalist business model,” she explained.
The channel 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.