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12° Nicosia,
27 February, 2024
 

McDonalds Israel in the hot seat for giving away 100,000 free meals to soldiers

Many McDonald’s operators in the Middle East region quickly distanced themselves from the Israeli operator’s actions

Source: CNN

Tensions are playing out at McDonald’s locations across the Middle East as the Israel-Hamas war rages on.

In Israel, a local McDonald’s operator has been offering discounts to soldiers, security forces and others since Hamas’ October 7 assault by militants that killed 1,400 people and captured over 220 hostages, according to Israeli authorities. A handful of hostages have since been released. McDonald’s Israel has so far given out 100,000 free meals, according to posts on social media.

Many McDonald’s operators in the region quickly distanced themselves from the Israeli operator’s actions. Franchise groups in Kuwait, Pakistan and other countries issued statements saying they did not share ownership with the Israeli franchise. Some of those franchises noted they have made financial donations to aid those in Gaza, where more than 5,000 people have been killed since October 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, an organization controlled by Hamas.

At issue is McDonald’s franchise model, in which independently owned and operated restaurants make decisions separately from the company. Customers may be unaware of the distinction and believe an action one location takes is always officially sanctioned by the McDonald’s corporation, or reflective of the positions of other locations.

The vast majority of McDonald’s locations are run by local franchise operators. These operators act in many ways as independent businesses: They set wages and prices and, when they feel appropriate, make statements or donations at their discretion. That approach has helped make McDonald’s a global phenomenon, with over 40,000 locations globally, including nearly 27,000 outside of the United States, as of 2022. But it means the company can’t dictate how each operator responds in a crisis, for better or worse.

“You’re seeing the risk play out right now of that business model,” said Andrew Gilman, founder and CEO of CommCore, a consulting group with expertise in crisis communication. “It’s less control.”

As the public feud plays out in the Middle East, McDonald’s corporate hasn’t said much about the war.

The company told CNN that it is prioritizing the safety of its franchisees and offering them support, adding that it is making a $1 million donation to be split evenly between the Red Cross and the World Food Program to help those in the region.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  business  |  Israel  |  MiddleEast

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