With rare unanimity and unusual speed, numerous Western companies have withdrawn from the Russian market. In some cases, they leave large gaps that domestic producers now want to fill. Sometimes they show quite clearly which market they want to skim off – the best and youngest and possibly best example of this: The new Russian alternative to the US fast-food giant McDonald’s called “Uncle Vanya”.
Mc Donald’s was one of the first international companies to settle in the former Soviet Union after the fall of communism. The opening of the first McDonald’s branch in Moscow turned into a mass spectacle, everyone wanted a bite of the burgers and fries, which stood as a culinary symbol of the American lifestyle and freedom.
As coveted as the fast-food giant’s products were, McDonald’s was successful in Russia for over 30 years. But (for the time being) that’s all in the past: With Putin’s war of aggression, McDonald’s decided to turn its back on Russia – and thus caused great disappointment and anger among Russian fans of BigMac and Co. One particularly passionate customer even chained himself in front of a bar to protest the withdrawal, while others stockpiled supplies and sold portions online.
But now rescue is at hand for the 850 McDonalds branches in Russia that have been closed since the third week of the war: they are to be revived with a Russian brand clone called “Uncle Vanya”. The name of the chain is based entirely on the literary model of Anton Chekhov’s literary masterpiece “Uncle Vanya”, who said: “The past – gone. Start from scratch.”
A Russian supplier doesn’t want to start from scratch, because the “Uncle Vanya” logo already reveals that he wants to follow in the red and yellow footsteps of McDonald’s. And the food should also taste as good as the American model: the change is said to be no problem for the speaker of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, after all, 100 percent of the ingredients are already from Russia, and Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin is said to want four million provide euros.
It remains to be seen whether “Uncle Vanya” will be as popular with Russians as its American role model – but the McDonald’s clone is already a big flop online.
Other possible alternatives to the big brands that have migrated are already being mocked: