Burger King Russia Tried To Ban 'It,' Calling Pennywise A McDonald's Mascot
This year is perhaps the first time you've ever thought about Russian McDonald's (unless you've been to Moscow and enjoyed going to McDonald's and trying their burger patties in kebab bread). We all heard about McDonald's joining other companies in pulling out of Russia after the country invaded Ukraine. They went on paying their employees in Russia, and had to dispose of massive amounts of food they deemed unsellable, costing them over $100 million in the first quarter.
That got us thinking about the last story in recent memory about Russian McDonald's—the rivalry between Burger King and McDonald's in Russia over the movie It.
It did well in Russia. It was one of the top 10 grossing films of 2017, with most of the other hits being the same American blockbusters that succeeded the world over (the top Russian film that year, Salyut 7, didn’t crack the top 20). Then a few weeks into its release, Burger King contacted the country’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, saying they had to ban the movie. It broke advertising laws, they said, since its depictions of Pennywise looked so much like Ronald McDonald that the movie advertised McDonald's.
The government, despite the Russian government's general love of censorship, rejected the request. They police product placement and straight-up ads, but it's not their job to debate the inspirations behind movie designs. "We can’t be concerned with the content of the film because the writer and director have their own creative understanding of any character," said a representative from the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service.
There's no denying Ronald McDonald's terrifying power. Stephen King even talked once about how though he personally has never faced a scary clown, he was on a plane one time when a fully dressed Ronald McDonald sat next to him. The clown started smoking (smoking was allowed in those days), and ordered a gin and tonic. "I said the only thing I could think of," King recalled, "‘Where did you come from?’ He says, ‘McDonaldland.’ Which is a real place in Chicago."
Still, even after hearing that terrifying and totally relevant story, we should all mock Burger King for their complaint. McDonald's may as well have filed a counter-complaint, saying that all Stephen King works advertise Burger King, since they prominently display the word King.
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Top image: New Line Cinema, George Pearson