In late February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Western corporations began to pull out of Russia. Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM, Spotify, and Intel have all left the country.
Among the most popular brands to leave Russia are Starbucks and McDonald's. Starbucks shut down its 130 Russian locations in early March. The CEO explained on the Starbucks website that the company condemns Russia’s “horrific” attacks on Ukraine and their hearts go out to those who’ve been affected.
McDonald's released a statement that explained Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “led McDonald’s to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values.”
Officially, the two fast food organizations sold their companies. But it turns out all of the McDonald's and Starbucks locations in Russia are still open, with identical menus and tastes but under different names.
While in Moscow, I visited these establishments and spoke to their Russian customers to see if there was any difference between the old McDonald's and Starbucks and the new ones.
Most Russians were not able to tell the difference. They also spoke to me about whether or not they believe these companies will ever come back to Russia and if they believe it’s right that they left in the first place.
While U.S. corporate behemoths and household names like McDonald's and Starbucks got out of Russia, one might think that nothing could ever replace these Western classics. But it seems that it might actually not be that hard to mimic their products -- with the same kitchens, staff and recipes.
And while these companies left the country for many reasons, one being not to help the Russian economy, but Russian look-alike companies have taken their place -- suggesting that the economy may be unaffected by the big brands' departure -- except that profits are no longer repatriated to a foreign head office.
Watch the report above to hear from Russians about what they think about these restaurants.
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