The surge of boycott campaigns targeting brands accused of sympathizing with the Israeli army has not spared Morocco. Currently, the American restaurant chain McDonald’s is facing the brunt of discontent from the citizens of Morocco. Similar to other Arab countries, these movements are not organized by specific structures but rather represent a spontaneous popular impulse.
Having operated in the kingdom for 30 years and previously enjoying a thriving business, McDonald’s faced a turning point when its Israeli brand, maintained by Alonyal Limited, decided in early November to provide free meals to the Israeli military. This move has linked the perception of “MacDo” irreversibly to Washington’s support for Tel Aviv, as reported by the Moroccan news site Le Desk.
The escalating atrocities in the Gaza Strip are further exacerbating the situation. First Rest International, the Moroccan company that has owned the American franchise since 1992, is working diligently to prevent its 70 restaurants from experiencing setbacks that could lead to bankruptcy if the war persists. A young waiter from one of the McDonald’s restaurants on a motorway rest area in the kingdom disclosed, “We have noticed a decline in attendance.”
In response, the company has initiated a series of “advertorials” in national media. Opting for an “aggressive” communication strategy to dissociate itself completely from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), McDonald’s even enlisted the services of public relations agencies in October. The press is financially compensated for simulating discussions in which McDonald’s addresses “unfounded questions and rumors,” and all interviews share the same title: “Always loyal to our community for more than 30 years.”
The American label emphasizes that the company is “100% Moroccan, with 100% Moroccan capital, operating with 5,300 Moroccan employees and creating several thousand indirect jobs.” The Moroccan franchisee of McDonald’s has released a video on various media platforms to showcase empathy, featuring an employee expressing sadness for each civilian life lost in Gaza. However, the film does not neglect promoting the brand’s products.
Despite efforts, on social networks, certain pro-Palestinian comments are discreetly hidden by moderators, but negative reactions such as emojis remain uncontrollable.
Nevertheless, the charm offensive seems ineffective. The fact that a portion of the profits is transferred to the accounts of the parent company, classified as pro-Israeli, poses a significant problem for Moroccan citizens.