BUSINESS: Big Mac turns 50 as Cyprus takes a bite

8 mins read

McDonald’s is celebrating 50 years since the birth of its flagship creation the Big Mac burger with the local franchise in Cyprus joining in the restaurant chain’s global anniversary.


To mark the 50th anniversary of perhaps the world’s most famous burger, McDonald’s has relaunched the Big Mac in three new sizes, Junior Big Mac, the Big Mac and the Grand Big Mac accompanying them with surprises.

McDonald’s, wanting to further mark the occasion, has debuted its own currency dubbed the MacCoin which has consumer value and can be traded in for a Big Mac at any of McDonald’s across the globe.

Consumers buying a Grand Big Mac as of 2 August and until coin stocks run out, will receive one of the 6.2 million MacCoins to be redeemed for another Big Mac.

The brass-coloured collectables, distributed at 14,000 participating restaurants in more than 50 countries, have design elements that highlight each decade of the Big Mac’s existence, starting with the 1970s.

McDonald’s Cyprus general manager Renos Andreou said MacCoins have been released in five unique designs, each representing a decade in the life of the Big Mac.

One version highlights the 1970s, focusing on flower power. The 80s MacCoin has been designed with reference to the pop culture movement. The bold, abstract shapes that characterize the 1990s are depicted in the edition dedicated to the decade, while designs on the '00s MacCoin reflect modernization and the shift towards technology. The MacCoin of the 10's focuses on the evolution of communication depicting our favourite emojis.

The campaign was a smash hit on the island, as all coins assigned to the Cypriot market were distributed within the first three weeks of the campaign.

Andreou told the Financial Mirror. “Not only did customer response to the campaign beat all our expectations, but we saw most people treating the coins as collectable items. Only 30% of coins have been redeemed.”

He said the fact that people preferred to hold on to the MacCoins is also an indication of how consumers perceive the value of the brand, as they believe that the coins may hold some intrinsic value in the future.

Meanwhile, the promotion campaign surrounding Big Mac’s 50th birthday in Cyprus has seemingly led Big Mac sales to shoot up by 9%.

The General Manager of McDonald’s Cyprus said that the Big Mac is the most recognisable burger in the world, and it was always the best-selling product since the franchise expanded to Cyprus back in 1997, with sales nearing 1.5 million per year.

Andreou said that what has made the Big Mac famous around the world, is the fact that it has kept its original taste and quality throughout its 50 years of existence.

“The Big Mac you eat today at our restaurants in Nicosia or Larnaca looks and tastes exactly the same as the Big Mac sold 50 years ago in New York. The two juicy beef burgers, the melted cheese, the onion, the pickles, the lettuce and of course our secret sauce, all in a sesame bun.”

The Big Mac, according to Andreou, was the cornerstone on which the company grew in Cyprus, expanding to 18 restaurants island-wide.

McDonald’s Cyprus employees more than 1,000 staff at; six restaurants in Nicosia, four in Limassol, three in Larnaca, three in Famagusta and two in Paphos.


Big Mac Index


“The Big Mac has gained so much popularity that even The Economist magazine used its price to create the Big Mac Index, an economic tool that compares the purchasing power of various international currencies every year,” said Andreou.

The Big Mac index was invented by The Economist in 1986 as a light-hearted guide to whether currencies are at their “correct” level. It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a burger) in any two countries.

To measure purchasing-power parity of various countries, The Economist looked at how many Big Macs can be bought with 50 USD.

India tops the list as Indians are able to purchase 30 Big Macs with 50 USD, followed by Ukraine and Hong Kong, where one can buy 23 Big Macs. USD 50 would buy you 21 Big Macs in countries like Malaysia and Thailand.

At the bottom of the list is Sweden and Brazil with eight Big Macs and Switzerland and Norway with seven.

If listed Cyprus would be sixth from the bottom – with Costa Rica, Chile, Israel, Japan and New Zealand – as 50 USD buys you at least 12 Big Macs on the island, with the burger priced at EUR 3.40.


Giving back


Renos Andreou said that McDonald’s Cyprus, just like McDonald’s International is also about “giving back to the society”. He said that the company believes greatly in the values cultivated by sports and is actively supporting a series of local sports clubs and events.

“But our biggest give-back to the society so far was the project to set up the children’s cardiological centre in the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia. Through the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) foundation, we have carried out the project which had cost EUR 400,000,” said Andreou. He said that the Children’s Cardiological Centre at the Makarios Hospital receives 4,000 to 5,000 visits per year.

“However, an even bigger charity project of the Ronald McDonald House Charities foundation in Cyprus will be the construction of a hostel for parents of children being treated at the Makarios Children Hospital.”

Andreou explained that the EUR 1 mln project is to be located opposite the hospital and will be able to host the families of 12 children being treated at the hospita