News / Europe

Wendy's Opens First Fast-Food Restaurant in Russia

Wendy's Russia workers pose out side of the new restaurant in Moscow, August 2011
Wendy's Russia workers pose out side of the new restaurant in Moscow, August 2011

Wendy’s has opened its first restaurant in Russia, the burgers, fries and even the ice cream drink make you feel just like you are in the United States. But Russia’s rendition of the company’s wholesome red-headed icon, Wendy, is raising some eyebrows.

It was not too long ago in Russia that choice was a dirty word, as this Wendy’s commercial from the 1980s suggests. So anything American in Russia was a big deal.

Like when the very first fast-food restaurant - McDonald's - opened in Russia here on Pushkin Square in 1990.

"It was an incredible deal. I was here," said advertising executive John Rose, owner of Rose Creative Strategies in Moscow. "First of all you have got to remember there were no restaurants, really, in Moscow at the time; very few brands. The excitement it caused was incredible. People did not have a lot of money, and the idea that they could get a Western meal for that kind of money was something special."

But that was then. Now McDonalds operates 279 restaurants throughout the country. Add Papa John’s pizza, Subway and Burger King, among others, to the mix and that means being an American company is not as exciting as it used to be.

New approach at Moscow restaurant

Victoria Hargrave, senior international projects manager at the Edelman public relations firm, said "With so many international brands here, I think being an international company has lost its appeal. I think now it is more about international companies showing they are Russian companies and that they can appeal to Russians, to the Russian sense of humor, Russian identity."

So, the Wenrus restaurant group, which operates the Wendy's chain in Russia, might be forgiven for trying to make the restaurant’s image a bit more "sexy." The restaurant itself looks the same. The wholesome, pig-tailed iconic Wendy image still adorns the façade and the walls inside.

But at various locations on Arbat Street, is a decidedly different Wendy. The little redhead is re-envisioned as actual female restaurant workers who are wearing short skirts, striped knee-high socks and stiletto heels with their pigtails. The women try to lure customers into the restaurant.

Reaching out to younger crowd

Wenrus Restaurant Group’s boss told local media that given the competition in Moscow, he wanted to appeal to a younger demographic. He said that generally, fast food customers are men between the ages of 18 and 24.

But American Scott Holder thinks it is a shame that Wendy would be given a makeover. "For me, I would personally not want it. I would personally rather keep the wholesome-type image a little more," he said.

"Hey, it is Russia. Get over it. It makes sense," said Rose.

Breaking out from the pack

Rose said Russians are not burdened by puritan values. And he pointed out that one cannot judge their tastes by American standards. "People here dress up more, women here certainly dress sexier. I think that is just part of who they are. I think it is a sexy place to be. And I do not think anyone is batting an eye... except for the people outside," he said.

One of those outsiders who is batting an eye is Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Chief Operating Officer Andrew Skehan. Russian media quoted Skehan as being surprised that Wendy, modeled after the restaurant founder’s eight-year-old daughter, had undergone an overhaul. He apparently found out when he attended the restaurant’s grand opening.  

So was that really necessary? Public relations manager Victoria Hargrave said, "I am sure it must be hard. It seems that the Russian market, especially for new restaurants, is pretty competitive. So I am pretty sure any restaurant coming into the area is trying to do something new and creative to get the attention for a new opening."

American Carrie Holder said she does not get it and does not think it is necessary. "Wow, in the United States we are a lot more prude or modest with our bodies," she said.

Judging from the long lines outside the Wendy’s on Moscow’s trendy Arbat Street the past couple of weeks, sexy sells in the former Soviet Union.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid