“Would you like to supersize your passport?” – Austrian McDonald’s offers embassy services

McDonald's has signed an agreement with the US Vienna embassy to help Americans in distress to connect with the embassy and get help

“Would you like to supersize your passport?” – Austrian McDonald’s offers embassy services

Imagine you’re a US citizen in distress in Austria. You may’ve lost your passport and iPhone and have no means of contacting the embassy for help. At least, that used to be the case. As of Wednesday May 15, any American finding themselves in difficulty can simply enter one of McDonald’s 194 Austrian branches and get in touch with the US embassy.”

The new 24-hour hotline to the embassy will also include help from the franchise’s employees. The restaurants would still remain Austrian territory. Speaking with the BBC, McDonald’s added that its personnel would certainly help anyone who found themselves in distress, not just US citizens.”

The US embassy in Vienna announced the agreement on Facebook and was quickly met by some ridicule. Comments like “Introducing the McVisa,” “Would you like to supersize your passport?” and “Can you open a Burger King embassy so we can have it our way?” were rife on the embassy’s social media page.”

Others found the deal slightly problematic. One Facebook user wrote: “As a US citizen, I find it odd that this seems to be an endorsement for a specific corporation. I would prefer if the government and corporations were kept separate.”

One individual asked if this new service was “in lieu of a staffed embassy” to which the Vienna embassy replied: “Certainly not. Our embassy is fully staffed and ready to assist American citizens in need. This partnership is only one extra way for Americans to connect to the embassy when they are in an emergency situation.”

McDonald’s is clearly not afraid of trying out new things. The franchisor recently made its biggest acquisition in almost two decades by buying Dynamic Yield, the personalisation and decision logic technology startup. The acquisition will see the franchise roll out new smart digital menus. Another push saw McDonald’s swap its plastic straws to paper ones to reduce its environmental impact. Although, some people didn’t like that particular change.”

But whether or not this is a one-off or the start of similar rollouts across the world, enabling people in distress to find help easier is never a bad thing.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson