McDonald’s Gone Global

Posted on January 31, 2012


22 years ago on January 31st, McDonald’s opened its first location in the Soviet Union. Nestled on a busy street in Moscow, people lined around the block to pay what was the equivalent of several days pay for Big Macs, shakes and fries.


The notorious golden arches standing strongly over the land were a sign to the people of Russia that times were changing. An American reporter on the scene that day noted who amazed customers were at the “simple sight of polite shop workers…in this nation of commercial boorishness.” Two years later the USSR would fall altogether, before reforming into independent nations.


This isn’t the only place that McDonald’s has made a splash. And often when moving into foreign nations, the hamburger doting chain finds their own way to adapt.

In Norway’s second largest city of Bergen, locals can enjoy a nice stroll down the cobblestone streets before heading to the fish market, street vendors, and of course McDonald’s. With a cozy look in its transformed historic building, customers can enjoy a shake, fries, and even hot wings- a menu item specific to their nation.

The one thing you cannot avoid inGermany, sausage. From the fanciest restaurants to the kiosks on train platforms, meat is literally everywhere in this country. That’s why it was an absolutely uncanny move when the McDonald’s locations in Deutschland decided to offer the Veggieburger. Sometimes the best way to make ground is to offer a substitute to the “other” guy…in this case, a German that doesn’t eat meat.


Sometimes culturally conforming means ascetically. McDonald’s has this one covered to a T, and if you’ve ever been to their locations in China or Thailand you’ll know why.

In Yangshuo, a Chinese village of the Guangxi province, you’ll find a scenic bridge over a mirror lake in place that is famous for its rocky landscape. Rock-climbers and backpackers from all over the world make visiting this McDonald’s their first stop before heading up the mountains.


In Krabi, Thailand, the golden arches have actually altered their biggest representative, Mr. Ronald McDonald, to fit a more Thai friendly appearance.

While studying the variables that makes each of these locations unique was of certain importance to McDonald’s, keeping up with each new chain in an organized and visually captivating way must have been essential.

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