McDonalds and the Russian language: a scandal that did not exist
This story proved that the most silly reason is enough to outrage in Ukrainian society
Last week, a “bomb” exploded in the home news industry – a language scandal surrounding the McDonald’s fast food chain. It seems that the world famous network has removed the Russian language from the terminal order menu, thus depriving Russian-speaking users of the possibility of placing an order online in their native language. The pro-Russian political blogger and the leader of the party of the same name Anatoly Shariy quickly “trampled” on this subject with corresponding malicious snouts – and there was noise. But in fact, it turned out that there was nothing like it, and the founder of the provocative clothing brand POHUY, signed on Facebook as Rus Satan, became the main source of manipulation. A few days after the publication of a photo of the restaurant terminal and the active participation in the discussion of specialists “to encroach on the Russian language”, the author declared that it was a social experiment – and he , he said, was a success.
What experimenters, such and experiences
On June 11, Rus Satan uploaded a photo of McDonald’s command terminal, which shows that the company offers a menu in only two languages: Ukrainian and English.
Then the photo “marketed” on the network, fueling controversy and dividing into camps. Some strongly supported McDonalds, thanks to their position of principle, others (not without the submission of Russian propagandists) called for a boycott of burgers … A few days later, the author of the first publication wrote that everything it was a social experience, because the Russian menu in McDonalds never actually was. The “experimenter” simply decided to tease those who he says do not feel full, if there is nothing to complain about.
In an interview with MMR online magazine, Ros Satan explained the provocation by the fact that he wanted to test people’s herd instinct again and the reaction of his target audience (the first experiments of this type were carried out by him in the same provocative clothing brand). The fact that the pro-Russian propaganda forces quickly joined the “hype” was very encouraging for the author. He even flirted with journalists over the lack of knowledge of the names and publications that used his photo to incite ethnic hatred in the country. Although they have rung all the bells, they say, “the restaurant chain’s decision once again underscores the attitude towards half of the Ukrainian population who speak Russian” (however, Sharia seems to have an attitude particular towards the McDonalds network since its armed confrontation with another visitor to the restaurant in Kiev in May 2011. – Aut.)
In response to the informational resonance raised by Sharia law, the Ukrainian representative office at McDonald’s declared that the Ukrainian language is a priority not only in the terminal menu, but also in communication with visitors. They also recalled that, according to the legislation on the Ukrainian language, the main language of communication of McDonald’s in Ukraine is Ukrainian. “All official documentation is kept in the official language, advertising communication, communication on social networks is carried out, information is provided on the website and in the consumer corner,” added the company.
Interestingly, even the provoker was then surprised by the company’s restraint. “There was a risk that McDolnades would say in front of me that there was never a Russian on the menu. So my message with the exhibition would not be so brilliant. But they said nothing – it is still not clear to me. Probably, like my mom said, “Keep quiet, be wiser,” he said in an interview with MMR.
When reputation is not an empty expression for companies
Reputation management experts have praised the actions of McDonalds of Ukraine in this scandalous situation. “The company has been preparing for possible crises for years, retaining its public and building relationships. And in this situation, the reputation capital accumulated helped the company to remain invulnerable, ”explains Irina Himchak, co-founder of BeCentric, a marketing and communications agency.
The transnational American company McDonalds always demonstrates integrity in matters of reputation. After all, it must take into account various socio-political nuances in the markets of different countries. It should be recalled that in May 2014, MacDonald-Ukraine closed all of its restaurants in the occupied territories of Ukraine. In 2016, the “Russian world” seized McDonald’s property in Crimea and Donbas, opening their “taverns” there. In 2020, some of the giants of the world had already surrendered and started working in the occupied territories (scandal of the German Siemens turbines), but not McDonald’s-Ukraine. In general, it is a business with a position and beliefs that it can express and emphasize subtly and appropriately. For example, when quarantine began in the world and it was necessary to explain social distance, they eloquently divided the arcs in the inscription of their logo. Other companies later swept away this trend.
“Vilna Kasa” – as an example of gentle Ukrainization
As for the fictitious linguistic “scandal”, in our opinion, several conclusions follow. Firstly, to “make” an irritated Ukrainian society, any reason, even the most stupid, is enough, especially in the linguistic field. Whether or not there is a menu button is not important at all. People are immediately divided into supporters and opponents.
Secondly. Lack of critical thinking is still used by enemies whose task is to keep Ukrainian society “in good shape” of constant internal confrontation.
Third, only moderate ukrainization can remedy this.
“McDonald’s linguistic position in Ukraine is, in fact, an example of systematic ‘soft’ Ukrainianization of the industry. It was the Ukrainian language that was still used in the menu and advertising communication of these fast food restaurants. For example, at one time it was “Mack” (the slang name for restaurants. – Auth.) Who introduced the unpopular word “Cranes” into the fast food industry in the early 2000s. It was when a new cranberry dessert was launched. Not to mention the famous phrase “Vilna Kasa, catch, be affectionate,” which has long become a meme, “said Mikhail Shuranov, former director of public relations for McDonald’s in Ukraine in a conversation with Ukrinform (worked for the company in the early 2000s. – Auth.). In his view, this is precisely the reason why McDonald’s got more support in society during the “linguistic” provocation than the conviction. “It is an acknowledgment that the company respects the countries in which it operates,” says Mikhail Shuranov. Even despite active information attacks.
Thus, according to the analytical platform SemanticForce, which, at the request of the online publication mc.today, has analyzed the opinions on the company on Google Maps since early June 2020, it turned out that during the deployment of the “linguistic” scandal there has been a sharp rise in negative: 3-4 times higher than usual.
For example, a user visited six Dnipro McDonalds a day and left the same disgruntled comments everywhere. There have been critics who have directly accused the network of institutions of “violating the rights of Russian speakers”. They were also left on the pages of different restaurants by the same users.
So, instead of the result: let’s not forget, the information war doesn’t stop for a minute, and such provocations are the usual weapons.
Oksana Polishchuk, Kiev
According to the materials: ukrinform.ru