Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fast food & viral marketing

Fast food outlets are increasingly turning to 'viral marketing' to promote their brand. Recently Long John Silver's unveiled shrimpbuddy.com, a website featuring a film about a guy with a best friend who is a 6 foot tall shrimp. Hardee's has spicyparis.com with extended videos of their infamous Paris Hilton burger ad. We wrote about Wendy's viral 'squares' last week. And the viral site that started it all (at least for fast food) was Burger King's Subservient Chicken.

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Chick-fil-a introduces gourmet coffee

Chick-fil-a is following its breakfast menu expansion of earlier in the year with the introduction of the Cafe Blends Coffee line; fast food's first premium coffee program to offer three blends of coffee. Cafe Blends Coffee is available in three specialty blends, Coffeehouse Light, Bistro Dark and Expressly Decaf. Chick-fil-a is also introducing the Cinnamon Cluster, a fresh-baked mini swirl, filled with sweet cinnamon, cream butter and whole eggs, with creamy vanilla icing.

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Monday, June 27, 2005

First Burger King in China opens

Burger King opened their first restaurant in China today in Shanghai hoping to take a bite out of McDonald's market share. McDonald's has 600 restaurants in China with plans for 100 more this year. In addition to American standards like the Whopper, BK is adding menu items with local flavor such as a hamburger seasoned with the spicy mala sauce of southwestern China. [AP]


Fast food stocks down after mad cow news

The beef industry was quick to reassure the public following the announcement of a the first confirmed US case of mad cow disease last week, but fast food company stocks responded negatively nonetheless. Shares of McDonald's [MCD] and Wendy's [WEN] stock were both down close to 1% on Friday.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Whale burger on menu at fast food chain

No, its not another giant whale OF a burger it is actually a burger made from whale meat. Japan has plans to increase its whaling program, and the whale burger is one use for the meat. The $3.50 slice of fried whale on a bun is on sale at Lucky Pierrot, a restaurant chain in the Japan's port city of Hakodate. Lucky Pierrot's manager Miku Oh said, "The taste and texture are somewhere between beef and fish. People in Hakodate have a long history of eating whale, so customers are looking forward to trying it." Whale meat was a staple of school lunches in Japan before a moratorium on whaling was introduced in 1986. [Yahoo News | BBC]


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Australia's fast food growth

According to a BIS Schrapnel report, the number of fast food restaurants in Australia has grown by 25% in the last 4 years. The 123.2 per cent growth in new Subway outlets compared with 2.1 per cent growth for McDonald's showed consumers were voting with their waistlines, the report's co-author Jan Roach said. But in terms of sales turnover, McDonald's still leads the way, followed by KFC. [Herald Sun | The Age]

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McDonald's big drinks are back

Super-sizing is back -- for drinks, anyway. Fifteen months after McDonald's stopped offering "super-sized" portions of french fries and soft drinks, its Chicago area restaurants are selling the extra-large 42 ounce sodas again. Getting rid of 42-ounce drinks was a key part of McDonald's highly touted March 2004 rollback of super-sizing that coincided with the release of "Super Size Me," a documentary alleging bad health effects from an all-McDonald's diet. A 42-ounce Coke contains 410 calories. [Sun-Times]

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Super-sized restaurant furniture

As restauranteurs gathered in Chicago for the National Restaurant Associaton conference, one topic up for discussion was larger furniture for their restaurants; not just to hold larger portions, but for the larger customers those portions have produced. For one, Chili's Grill & Bar has noticed that some of their customers are finding their tables constricting and are looking at larger configurations. One chair manufacturer said his company is rethinking size -- as in making products bigger -- because customers are bigger. "Let's face it, America has an obesity problem," said Jerry Falk of Foldcraft Co. of Minnesota. [Dallas News] {Thanks Chris}

Wendy's 'smart square' viral marketing

If you haven't seen it yet, Wendy's latest spokesman is a square. Taking the shape of the chain's burger patties, the new spokesman in the cartoon ads leads the mass of circles (the other guys' burgers) to enlightenment. The viral ad campaign is featured on Wendy's 'good to be square' website. I'd give the 'square' two thumbs up, but Wendy's has probably had enough of body part references lately.


Monday, June 20, 2005

Fast food openings in China, Iraq and India

Burger King will be opening its first store in China later this month in Shanghai [Shanghai Daily]. Earlier this month, Popeyes Chicken opened their first store in Iraq [Blackanthem.com]. Eastern India’s maiden KFC outlet was unveiled in Calcutta. [Calcutta Telegraph]

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Mexican Hawaiian fusion fast food

Always on the lookout for the next fast food player, Maui Tacos has come to our attention as an up-and-coming franchise. Maui Tacos describes themselves as "a restaurant fusing traditional Mexican fare with the exotic flavors from the Islands." The first restaurant opened in Maui in 1993 and came to the mainland in 1998. There are now 19 locations with 47 more under contract to open over the next 4 years. The menu features a variety of tacos and burritos, nachos, enchiladas and salads with Hawaiian names.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

McD encourages cycling... but not in drive-thru

McDonald's may be trying to chang their image and encouraging customers to exercise, even selling McKids bicycles, but don't try and ride that bicycle through a McDonald's drive-thru. A UK couple who tried to bike through the drive-thru were turned away. They were told that only insured vehicles are allowed. [Portsmouth Today]

Friday, June 17, 2005

Healthy fast food a new trend?

Burger King has introduced the Veggie Burger. Chipotle seeks out organic food suppliers like Niman Ranch pork. Now there's O'Naturals, a small chain of fast-food restaurants in the Northeast that offers everything from carrot ginger soup and organic smoked tofu to bison meatloaf sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese, much of it made with organic or natural ingredients. [Chicago Trib]

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

McDonald's expands with McKids

McDonald's has annouced there selection of DIC Entertainment as its worldwide licensing agent for McKids. McKids will promote active lifestyles for kids through a range of products, including toys, videos/DVDs, bikes, skateboards, scooters, and an entire line of clothing and accessories.
"One of the strategic pillars of our leadership marketing is promoting Balanced Active Lives,” said Larry Light, McDonald’s global chief marketing officer. “Our McKids line will do just that."

McDonald's hip flagship store

McDonald's flagship/concept store near their headquarters in Oak Brook, IL shows a glimpse of the McDonald's of the future: "Digital-media kiosks for burning CDs, downloading cell-phone ring tones and printing photos. Dozens of plasma-screen TVs. Wi-Fi Internet access. New chicken sandwiches. Double-lane drivethrus. And an adjoining McCafe with gourmet coffees, fancy pastries and a fireplace." [more from AP]

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Free floats at A & W

A&W Restaurants will give away a free Root Beer Float with any purchase on National Float Day, Monday, June 20, from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. This is the second annual Root Beer Float giveaway from A&W Restaurants.

Monday, June 13, 2005

McDVD Rentals

According to Wired Magazine, McDonald's has gotten into the DVD rental game and is expanding the program:
McDonald's is expanding tests for a national DVD rental service in its restaurants, promising to turn the fast-food chain into a do-it-yourself Netflix for road warriors. Soon travelers will be able to rent their way across the country. Munch in Minneapolis, rent Finding Nemo. Dine the next night in Washington, D.C., drop off Nemo and pick up SpongeBob Squarepants.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Who owns 'fast casual'?

The big boys of fast food are fully invested in what has come to be known as 'fast casual' restaurants. Although it isn't shouted from the mountain tops, its no secret who owns who: the Baja Fresh Mexican Grill chain is owned by Wendy's and the Qdoba Mexican Grill chain was purchased by Jack in the Box in 2003. McDonald's owns both Boston Market and Chipotle.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Fast food poll: Wendy's is most popular

According to a new poll by Zogby International, "nearly one-in-four (23%) American adults call fast food chain Wendy’s their favorite, with half as many preferring runners-up Taco Bell and McDonald’s (12% apiece). Burger King trailed McDonald’s and Taco Bell at 11%. Rounding out the field were KFC at 8%, and Jack in the Box and Long John Silver’s, at 3% each. Three-in-ten (29%) respondents say they either prefer no fast food restaurant or a chain not offered on the list."

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Fast food as currency indicator

The Economist's 'Big Mac Index' compares the worldwide prices of a Big Mac to the US price to analyze currency exchange rates. This year's index indicates that the Euro is overvalued by 17% against the dollar:
"The euro is worth about $1.22 on the foreign-exchange markets. A Big Mac costs €2.92, on average, in the euro zone and $3.06 in the United States. The rate needed to equalise the burger's price in the two regions is just $1.05. To patrons of McDonald's, at least, the single currency is overpriced."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Fast Food Terminology

Have you ever found yourself in the drive-thru lane wanting to increase the size of your meal but not remembering the correct phraseology to use to ask for it? Here's your guide to making your meal bigger in these fast food lanes:
  • Whataburger - Whatasize
  • McDonalds - Super Size
  • Burger King - King Size
  • Wendy'’s - Biggie Size
  • Jack in the Box - Jumbo Size
  • Chic-fil-A - Value Size

Wendy's CEO talks about the finger hoax

In a USA Today interview, Wendy's CEO Jack Schuessler discusses why he suspected from the outset that the woman who claimed to find part of a finger in her serving of Wendy's chili was perpetrating a hoax:
"We go through so much care in our food supply with tracking systems at the manufacturer level. Within a day, we could track back and know that there were no accidents in any of the plants; and that, if there were, the whole plant would have to be shut down. We polygraphed all of our employees at the unit and did visual inspections to see if they were missing any digits."


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Ronald McDonald as fitness guru

McDonald's has revamped their Ronald McDonald mascot to reflect an emphasis on fitness. The leaner Ronald will encourage McDonald's young consumers to exercise. Ronald, who is known officially within McDonald Corp. as "chief happiness officer," will soon be seen riding a skateboard with a basketball star and kicking a football. [CNN]
A brief history of Ronald McDonald:
  • 1963: Ronald McDonald makes his official debut
  • 1965: Ronald's first appearance at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade
  • 1966: First TV commercial featuring Ronald McDonald
  • 1971: Ronald joined by other characters, including Hamburglar and Grimace
  • 1994: Ronald McDonald Children's Charities celebrate 20th anniversary
  • 2005: McDonald's announces Ronald's sporty new look

Monday, June 06, 2005

Subway drops Sub Club promotion

Counterfeiters have brought the free sub promotion, that Subway has had since the 80's, to an end. Sub Club cards with eight stamps (from previous sub purchases) were redeemable for a free sub. But now that an abundance of counterfeit cards have been surfacing, Subway has decided to cancel the promotion. [Newsday]


Saturday, June 04, 2005

Taco Bell's chalupa images museum

First there was Mary's face on a piece of toast, then McDonald's capitalized on their french fry that looked like Abe Lincoln, now Taco Bell wants you to look for visions in their chalupas. Taco Bell's Food Sightings Museum asks you to look for images in food, especially in their chalupa shells, and submit them to their web museum. The person whose chalupa shell image receives the most votes on the site will receive a one-month supply of Chalupas.


Friday, June 03, 2005

White Castle's Jeeves on ebay for charity

White Castle has put the butler, Jeeves, from their latest television commercial up for auction on ebay. The winning bidder also receives 52 "Crave Case" coupons (a $750 value). The proceeds from the auction will be donated to Second Harvest.
[Thanks Dason]


Burger King to introduce 'chicken fries'

Burger King has scheduled a summer launch for these 4-inch long, fried white-meat chicken snacks. A cup-holder friendly box of 6 will set you back $1.79. In the current test marketing they are called "BK Chicken Fries." The CEO of Burger King, Greg Brenneman said, "For me, they're like M&Ms." Fast food 'snack items' like these have become increasingly popular; McDonald's very popular Chicken Selects are another example. [USA Today]


Thursday, June 02, 2005

McDonald's in-store music dowloads

A kiosk dubbed "Blaze Net" has been spotted in the "McCafe" section of a Chicago-area McDonald's. The kiosk, clearly aimed at the younger, tech saavy constomer, can be used to download ring tones, buy music, print digital photos and surf the net. MTV News reports that "in addition to promising instant ring tones, CDs in under two minutes and photos in six seconds apiece, the Blaze Net kiosks could eventually deliver concert and movie tickets as well as DVDs." [Seattle Times]

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Jack introduces fancy buns for burgers

Jack in the Box has introduced 2 new burger sandwiches on Ciabatta "artisan-style" bread: the Original Ciabatta Burger and the Bacon 'n' Cheese Ciabatta Burger. They feature the same hearth-baked ciabatta roll as the chain’s Bruschetta and Classic Chicken Ciabatta sandwiches. [press release]

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McDonald's sued over disputed $1 million prize

The widow of a man charged with conspiring to rig a McDonald's Corp. promotional contest is suing the fast-food chain for failing to make payments on his $1 million grand prize. [Yahoo News]