chew on this

Fast Food Slows Down as Happy Meal is Cut to the Core

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 13, 2012 04:22 PM

Fast-food giants share a not-so-secret recipe: make the up sell, adding fries to your bill or talking you into some kind of combination meal.

But the up sell isn’t working quite the way it used to. Consumers aren’t asking for "the #5 with fries" anywhere near as much as they used to, Fortune reports. A study by NPD Group finds that sales of combo meals at fast-food restaurants have gone down 12% in the last five years.

That means a billion fewer combo meals were ordered in the five-year period ending this past January than were ordered up in the five years before that. The lousy economy has something to do with it, but the study also showed that consumers would like to have more options in their combos.

The grand-daddy of the combo meal is the Happy Meal, which has been holding on for dear life. Revamped in time for the London Summer Olympics healthier menu marketing, it's been hit in markets such as Chile, where the government is now prohibiting restaurants (but it might as well say "McDonald's") from including toys with meals.Continue reading...

political season

Papa John's CEO Slices Into Obamacare

Posted by Dale Buss on August 13, 2012 10:32 AM

Many U.S. companies, CEOs and their allies in Washington, D.C., have been warning since the end of June that the Supreme Court's upholding of most of Obamacare would impact their financial health. And they indicated that they wouldn't stand by and watch the diminishment of their bottom lines because of it.

Now, the head of one of America's biggest pizza chains, Papa John's, has dropped the other shoe: Directly because of the requirements of Obamacare once the full law takes effect, according to the Huffington Post, Papa John's customers will have to pay 11 to 14 cents more per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents more per order, said John Schnatter.

Papa John's has taken on a higher profile over the last few years, including its buzz-worthy Coin Toss Promotion during the last Super Bowl. And its ascendance has included a very public role in the chain's TV commercials for Schnatter. So he's not exactly trying to maintain a low profile. But Schnatter's direct shot at the employer-carried costs of Obamacare is sure to be noticed.Continue reading...

chew on this

McDonald's 24/7: Wooing "Nocturnivores" to Breakfast After Midnight

Posted by Dale Buss on August 8, 2012 03:12 PM

McDonald's reported that same-store sales in July were flat worldwide, and it's getting some social-media flack because of its Olympics sponsorship — neither of which casts a rosy pall on the present reality of its business. But as the chain moves further into the new era of new CEO Don Thompson, it continues to innovate, test and probe for fresh ways to expand the brand, the franchise and its business model. Now those trials include breakfast in the wee hours of the night.

Thanks to the stagnating U.S. economy and greater competition globally, McDonald's reported that sales last month at stores open at least 13 months were unchanged worldwide while sales at domestic locations fell by 0.1 percent. Analysts had expected better on both counts. Meanwhile, because it's a purveyor of fat- and calorie-and sugar-laden products that global citizens want to eat — in contrast with the lean, healthy image of Olympians — McDonald's has been getting more criticism on Twitter than the two dozen other big Olympic sponsors, according to an analysis by WPP's MediaCom.Continue reading...

chew on this

Domino’s Rolls Out Digital Thanks in US, New Logo Beyond US

Posted by Dale Buss on August 6, 2012 11:17 AM

Domino’s Pizza has overhauled everything from its branding to its pizza recipes to its advertising over the last couple of years, and now the biggest pizza deliverer on the globe is pressing change in a number of new ways.

For one thing, Domino’s continues to push as much business as possible to online ordering, a trend that has been overtaking the pizza trade for a while now. This week, digital customers in the US will receive half off on all pizzas ordered at the listed menu price.

Also as part of this promotion, Domino’s is reminding American customers how many options they have for getting their pizza just right. At a time when some other products are getting simpler for ease of manufacturing and to cut costs for brands, Domino’s wants to let pizza eaters know that they could line up their pies more than 34 million different ways.Continue reading...

brands under fire

GLAAD Kiss-In Caps Wild Week for Chick-fil-A

Posted by Dale Buss on August 3, 2012 03:39 PM

The numbers were probably stacked against them from the start, but Friday's protest of Chick-fil-A by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) didn't turn out nearly as many participants in the planned LGBT "Kiss-in" as the chain was able to generate at former Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee's nationwide "Appreciation Day" for the restaurant chain on Wednesday.

Or gauging by another measure, by mid-afternoon Friday, nearly 14,000 Facebook users had subscribed to GLAAD's "National Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A" event, while some 630,000 subscribed to Wednesday's "appreciation day," according to a report by Politico.com.

And while Politico reported that the "kiss-ins appear to have occurred without incident" in Chick-fil-A restaurants, there was one ugly scene: The exterior of a Chick-fil-A in Torrance, Calif., was defaced with graffiti reading, "Tastes Like Hate."Continue reading...

brands under fire

Chick-fil-A Day Lures Same-Sex Marriage Foes as GLAAD Gears Up Friday Protest

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 1, 2012 03:12 PM

If Mike Huckabee ever runs for U.S. president again, he’ll be sure to get the Chick-fil-A vote. The former Arkansas governor suggested that consumers go eat at the fast-food chain in order to show their appreciation for the organization’s disdain for same-sex marriage. 

Chick-fil-A pulled in $12.7 million a day in 2011, according to ESPN’s sports business reporter Darren Rovell. And that’s without doing any business on Sundays, since the chain closes down in case its workers want to attend church.

Observers on both sides will be paying close attention to how much traffic and how many dollars Chick-fil-A pulls in today. (According to Huckabee's podcast and BuzzFeed's report, Chick-fil-A restaurants saw line-ups across the country.) But the chain will also get a few customers on Friday as well, CNN reports, when GLAAD is encouraging same-sex couples to visit Chick-fil-A’s across America to protest with a "Kiss Day" public display of affection.Continue reading...

chew on this

Applebee's Now Selling Inflatable You, So Real You Can Sneak Out for Lunch

Posted by Dale Buss on July 26, 2012 12:27 PM

Life-size inflatable dolls can be used for all sorts of things. There's that trick of setting one in the passenger seat of your car to fool cops policing high-occupancy vehicle lanes, of course. And, well, anyway, an unusual new line of blow-up dolls is now being offered by a surprising source: Applebee's, the casual-dining chain.

They're called Lunch Decoys, and they can be propped up at desks and on assembly lines "to trick bosses and coworkers into thinking you're still hard at work while you're actually at Applebee's enjoying the delicious Pick 'N Pair Lunch menu," as a spokesperson put it. "Now Applebee’s not only offers a great lunch menu, but also a foolproof way to slip out of the office and get it." But wait, there's more!Continue reading...

London 2012

London 2012 Watch: McDonald's Touts Team USA Gold Contest With Lolo Jones

Posted by Dale Buss on July 23, 2012 05:39 PM

Just as McDonald's is gearing up its controversial sponsorship of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London that begins this week, the world's biggest fast-food brand is introducing a new US Olympics tie-in marketing program designed to continue to reposition the brand as at least a reasonable alternative for healthful fare in the eyes of American consumers.

"Favorites Under 400 Calories" is a new menu "platform" featuring existing popular food and beverage choices at McDonald's, in an attempt to remind customers that they have plenty of healthful and even diet-friendly choices under the golden arches. Team USA gold medal contenders hurdler Lolo Jones (above) and boxer Marlen Esparza are featured in a new series of commercials supporting the Olympics contest.Continue reading...

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