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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs