McDonalds’ support for Putin Propaganda TV

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McDonalds’ support for Putin Propaganda TV

McDonalds’ support for Putin Propaganda TV 

Is it appropriate for McDonalds to continue to fund PPTV (Putin Propaganda TV) with advertisements – “I’m Loving it”? – while people die in the Ukraine?

Published: 8th March 2022

By: Clive Stafford Smith


As the Russian government increasingly censors the “news” about the supposed “non-war” in Ukraine, instructs teachers what they must tell Russian children, and criminalises anyone with the temerity to question this “fake news”, Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine continues to be funded in part by advertising by western companies. For example, this McDonalds advertisement appeared on Russian television at 06:41am on March 5, 2022:

It is one thing for McDonalds to operate in Russia at this point – there is an inescapable comparison between Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and Hitler’s invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939: to be sure, the U.S. would not enter the war itself for more than two years, but could any corporation have ethically traded with and in Berlin after that date? However, McDonalds currently go a step further, and seemingly continue to pay for advertisements during breaks in the false news on Russian television.

On the face of it, it would seem difficult for McDonalds to escape responsibility for this. Recently (on February 28, 2022), McDonald’s disclosed that it owns the vast majority of the 847 McDonald’s stores in Russia – 84% according to Bloombergs. That’s different from its model in the US, where franchisees own the outlets; the Russian model may expose the corporation to greater responsibility for the on-going actions of the Russian wing of its company. Along with the outlets in Ukraine, these account for $2.1 billion in annual revenue, albeit only three percent of the company profits.

Marc Carena is Managing Director of McDonald’s Russia. “CEO Magazine” recently quoted his claims that in Russia, every fifth out-of-home meal, every third coffee and every third ice cream are consumed in a McDonald’s. In a 2021 interview in Tass, Carena discussed plans to pay a total of 24 billion roubles into the Russian tax coffers – some of which is, no doubt, currently being spent on trying to crush the Ukrainian people.

Meanwhile, it may be that McDonalds are currently in an irony black hole. In 2019, Carena received the “Ethics Champion Leadership Award” from the McDonald’s Group. The award is given to the person who has gone above and beyond their role to support McDonald’s ethical culture.

We take no position on the claim that “fast-food giant McDonald’s has been named the most unethical firm in the world because of its business conduct” – that is, after all, a hotly contested title. However, McDonalds claims the company is all about Integrity: “We Do the Right Thing. We consider the impact of every decision we make as a company so we can stand by them with confidence. *** We operate our business ethically…. We are individually accountable and collectively responsible.”

However, it is difficult to think that McDonalds had their operation in Ukraine in mind when they wrote that they were providing a “SAFE WORKPLACE (We are committed to providing a safe and healthful working environment for our employees….)”, given that their Russian branches are contributing to the Putin war chest and doing nothing to prevent the violence.

Neither, at this point, does the company’s claim on HUMAN RIGHTS ring true:

“At McDonald’s, we conduct our activities in a manner that respects human rights as set out in The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights….We support fundamental human rights for all people….”

We welcome any statement from McDonalds which we will place, without charge, on our pages. Meanwhile, though, our question is a simple one: when will McDonalds recognize it’s moral duty to stop paying for advertising on PPTV and pull entirely out of Russia, ending its “business as usual” stance with the illegal invaders of Ukraine?

Note: as of 2022.03.08 “McDonalds bows to Pressure and closes all its Russian Restaurants”, The Guardian (March 8, 2022), available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/08/mcdonalds-bows-to-pressure-and-closes-all-its-russian-restaurants (accessed 2022.03.08). They, and others, should not need pressure to do the right thing…