The Daily Heller: McPutin, McFries and McLogo

Posted inThe Daily Heller

If you have not already heard the news, there are no more Happy Meals in Russia. McDonald’s, to its credit, pulled all business out of Russia as a sanction protesting Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Gone are the Golden Arches, Ronald McDonald, McNuggets and the Hamburglar, replaced by new branding and brand names. No more “Billions and Billions Served” bragging rights, either. They have to start from zero. For the foreseeable future this American fast food staple is now called “Vkusno & Tochka,” which translates to “Tasty and That’s It.”

As the name/slogan implies, this replacement company is no-nonsense. The new logo for the forthcoming relaunch of hundreds of stores (many in Siberia) adheres to the standards of other global corporate designs that attempt to sell through visual cliche (if someone can locate the official Vkusno & Tochka identity manual, The Daily Heller will consider paying a token reward).

It’s hard to blind a nation from a cruel war by rebranding its whole beef patties. But the shrewd President Putin may have his war and his Big Macski, too.

Whoever decided on this remake has made the replacement Mcdonald’s look more corpor-state (a cross between a Western-style investment brokerage firm and a Best Western motel chain) than fast food icon. By eliminating the Golden Arches and other early 1960s capitalist mnemonics, Russian designers are able to make outcomes that speak to a 20th-century design sophistication. The logo exudes Midcentury Modern formal and conceptual simplicity. The red circle represents a hamburger (or beet); the two parallel faded orange rectangles are fries. Together they comprise an ‘M,’ presumably the last nominal vestige of “McDonald’s.”

Some critics have argued it resembles the Marriott hotel mark. Maybe so. It reminds me of an inverted Saul Bass Warner Brothers logo (at bottom). Either way, as logos go, it’s more clever than McDonald’s current one (sans nostalgic charm). I wonder how many deflated rubles it cost (or was it created as a favor to the oligarch)?

If you study the mood board imagery assembled below, an interesting origin theory emerges. For instance, taking into mind the 1900-1920s eras of Constructivism (the age of Stalin’s hatred for the red circle, rectangle, triangle and square), an argument can be made that the Putin-era designer has hamburgled the old avant garde into a contemporary retro style, cleverly punning on a burger (Mother Russia), fries (Russian military) and lettuce (the green background, which, if you squint, also symbolizes the occupied Ukraine).