How McDonalds Mastered Localisation - Creative Word

No matter which corner of the world you hail from, chances are you’ve tried a McDonalds at some point. Considering the fast food restaurant chain has only been in existence for less than 80 years (it was founded 1940 as a restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald, in San Bernardino, California, USA), its global success as burger franchise that is recognisable across the globe is nothing short of phenomenal.

McDonalds have achieved this global success through maximising localisation techniques and appealing to local audiences.

They manage their menus to fit culturally and socially accepted norms; tailoring their traditional Big Mac meals to suit a local audience with specific requirements.

Within the translation industry, localisation (also known as L10N) is the process of adapting language, images, data, currencies, weights, measures, menus and so on, so that it is applicable and relevant to a specific target market.

For instance, if you are a UK business that wants to sell its products to an Arabic audience, chances are you’ll need to localise your packaging, customer services, advertising campaigns, social media posts, website, and more, in order to appeal to your new market and ensure you fit with their cultural expectations and requirements.

McDonalds have virtually perfected this localisation (through much trial and error, and learning from their customers), in order to become the world’s largest restaurant chain by revenue, serving over 69 million customers daily in over 100 countries, across 37,855 outlets (as of 2018).

From the list below you can see what McDonalds have changed and how it fits with their target market.



McDonald’s restaurants in Argentina offer the McFiesta burger which is a typical quarter pounder but using mayonnaise instead of ketchup. Sides here are typical of the traditional US options which include, French fries and Coca-Cola. For dessert you might like to try an ice cream with a cone made from Oreos.

In a French McDonalds you’d see their McBaguette combo – a sandwich that comes with a choice of breaded chicken, ham and cheese, or a hamburger that is topped with two hash browns. Also available is the ‘le McWrap’ and ‘le Menu Happy Meal’. For dessert you might want to try their lime and apricot macarons, or as a side, a bag of cherry tomatoes.


In India McDonalds have replaced the two traditional beef patties in a Big Mac with chicken ones to create the Maharaja Mac. The reason for this change is that in India cows are consider sacred animals. The Vegetable Pizza McPuff, a side that is unique to India, is also very popular. However, fries and Coca-Cola have proved to be just as popular here as elsewhere in the world.

Middle East

For the Middle East, McDonalds have created the McArabia Pita served with chicken or beef patties (pork being excluded from the predominantly Muslim diet), onions, and tahini sauce. Sides here are similar to the West with fries and Coke served as standard.

New Zealand
‘Georgie Pie’, a Kiwi legend, was discontinued from the permanent McDonald’s menu in New Zealand but it is still available at some restaurants. A square pie, made from minced steak and cheese served with fries and frozen Coke.


Many Scandinavian countries favour a healthy diet with a preference for vegetarian options. McDonalds have capitalised on localisation here by offering a vegetarian burger known as the McBean Patty. It is a blend of cannellini and kidney beans, mixed with onion, green peppers and carrots, served in a bun with lettuce, tomato and a sauce.


Thailand’s localised McDonalds menu contains the ‘Samurai Pork Burger’, a pork patty served with teriyaki sauce, lettuce, onions, tomato and mayonnaise. For dessert you won’t find the usual apple pie but there are corn and pineapple pies which aren’t available elsewhere.

McDonalds have a team of local experts in each country that can assist with localising products to ensure they are culturally and socially acceptable, but of course, not every business can offer this level of service.

Instead, businesses use localisation professionals, who have expert knowledge on a variety of cultures, languages and countries, to ensure they reach their target market.

At Creative Word we have years of experience within the fields of localisation and translation, and can professionally adapt websites, social media, brochures, packaging and products to guarantee a greater chance of success in new territories and markets.

If you would like to talk to us about localisation or translation projects please contact us here.