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  • Writer's pictureDavid Baker

Golden Arches replaced by burger patty and fries as McDonald's Russian replacement opens

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Or so the old adage goes.

Following McDonald’s recent shuttering of its restaurants in Russia, those same restaurants have been rebranded “Vkusno & Tochka.”

Translated as “Tasty and that’s it,” even the casual observer will note similarities between the new branding and the old. Whereas the original version prominently featured the familiar bright yellow letter “m,” the new version also features the letter “m” only with a green, orange and red color scheme purportedly depicting two French fries and a burger patty. Notably, there is no “m” in the new brand name.

But that’s not all that remains the same.

Now that McDonald’s has completed its withdrawal from Russia, a symbolic protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with very real financial consequences for the international fast-food behemoth, Russians are discovering that even without the Golden Arches the food seems to have stayed the same. It may not be called a “Big Mac” but patrons have reported that the food itself is largely the same, a fact that should come as little surprise.

What’s more, McDonald’s appears to have hedged its bets in Russia.

By shifting the right to operate its former retail locations, McDonald’s was careful to retain the right to return to Russia in 15 years’ time should political circumstances have changed by then. Of course, they would have to buy back those rights from the new owner.

For more on the story, check out CNN’s coverage of the opening day at the new “Vksuno & Tochka” locations in Moscow:

Unfortunately, rumors that the iconic Hamburglar has been replaced by a cartoonish version of Josef Stalin remain unconfirmed.

Why It Matters. Corporate logos such as McDonald’s “Golden Arches” are generally considered sacrosanct by competitors if for no other reason than the fact that by copying them a rival business, even one being operated outside the U.S., runs a significant risk of being sued and losing. Even were home court advantage (literally) to embolden a company to risk a lawsuit against a behemoth like McDonald’s, the practical nightmares of trying to compete with the legitimate version of the restaurant chain is akin to branding suicide.

Of course, were the behemoth to announce a political stand and voluntarily leave a marketplace, then the calculus changes immensely. And that’s exactly what happened here. With McDonald’s out of the picture for at least five years, the owners of Vkusno and Tochka have nothing to lose. If they prove successful, then they may be able to survive McDonald’s return (Does anyone really think McDonald’s is permanently gone from Russia?) or, at least, sell their assets back to McDonald’s for a nice profit. And should they fail, then they failed knowing it was their own fault.

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