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...

social media watch

Study: How McDonald's Masters Engagement on Social Media

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 18, 2012 01:08 PM

Unmetric, a social marketing benchmarking company, lets brand marketers compare their social media efforts against their competitors. Many of them in the quick-serve restaurant space will be consuming the firm's just released Fast Food Report, detailing social media efforts of the top 16 U.S. fast food chains from January through April 2012.

Beyond "how many followers?" or "how many friends?" Unmetric analyzes which campaigns are working, with whom, and how effectively. The proprietary Unmetric Score, “is a scientific blend of 24 qualitative and quantitative social media metrics, weighted and balanced to produce a single benchmarkable number.”

McDonald’s takes the trophy for the most astute fast food chain in social media, followed closely by Taco Bell, but for growth and conversation in 2012, it’s the McDonald’s vs. Burger King rivalry that stands out.Continue reading...

chew on this

Applebee's, Wendy's Freshen Menus, Stores

Posted by Dale Buss on July 4, 2012 02:02 PM

For Applebee's, the key to accelerating growth may be "fresh" and seasonal entrees. For Wendy's, the path to continuing to compete with Burger King for the No. 2 spot in U.S. fast-food sales may be strewn with bread and buns. Both chains have selected mid-year for significant new pushes behind their brands, their positioning and their products.

Applebee's just launched a new ad campaign, "See You Tomorrow," the first effort by new agency CP+B. It highlights what the chain calls its "culinary credibility" by sharing where its fresh ingredients come from. Ads show Applebee's chefs standing in fields of vegetables and fruits that are part of a new "Fresh Flavors of Summer" menu that includes entrees such as lemon shripm fettucine and garlic rosemary chicken pasta.Continue reading...

brand mascots

Chuck E. Cheese Relaunches From Goofy Cartoon Mascot Into Hip Rocker

Posted by Shirley Brady on July 4, 2012 10:54 AM

Chuck E. Cheese, the namesake mascot (mousecot?) of the pizza restaurant/kids arcade chain that was founded by the founder of Atari, is getting a makeover.

Following a teaser campaign on Facebook, the cartoon-like kid-appealing critter is getting hipper and adding some rock star 'tude (which keeping the purple and green t-shirt) via a national ad campaign in the U.S. that will break on July 5th. The new voice of Chuck also brings rock star cred to the character: Jaret Reddick, the lead singer of Bowling for Soup.

According to comments by CEC Entertainment CMO Scott McDaniel to Screen, the goal of the mascot refresh is to 

"contemporize Chuck E. Cheese in a very respectful and engaging fashion. Chuck E. is the hero at the heart of our restaurants. For the first time in years, we’re changing the way we communicate with our key patrons – kids.” The “Chuck E. Rocks” campaign comprises television, digital and in-store components. Four TV spots, “Belonging,” “Fun,” “Power” and “Birthdays,” each named for something a child experiences at Chuck E. Cheese’s, showcase kids doing what they do best at Chuck E. Cheese’s – having fun."Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Pay-What-You-Can Concept Enhances Panera Brand

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 22, 2012 11:04 AM

The idea of running a pay-what-you-can organization is generally laughed at as a business model, but Panera is proving skeptics wrong. So far, the St. Louis-based company has three such eateries and they are turning a profit, according to the Chicago Tribune.

This week Panera opened its fourth pay-what-you-can Panera Cares location, in Chicago. Founder and co-CEO Ron Shaich tells the Trib that the neighborhood that it's the perfect community for such a business because it has “million-dollar townhomes and people on the street."

"When you walk in, it's the full Panera experience," Shaich, who hopes to open a new Panera Cares cafe each quarter, told the Trib. "When you go into a soup kitchen, the energy is so negative and the food is institutional and the experience is institutional."Continue reading...

chew on this

I'm Not Lovin' It: McDonald's Can't Get No Customer Satisfaction (Again)

Posted by Barry Silverstein on June 20, 2012 05:05 PM

The 2012 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is out and it demonstrates the kind of consistency that a fast food behemoth like McDonald's can't be too happy about. 

The ACSI's new ranking puts the burger-meister dead last in the "Limited-Service Restaurants" category, with a satisfaction rating of 73 percent. That puts McDonald's just below rival Burger King (75 percent), but considerably below Wendy's (78 percent). Pizza delivery company Papa John's was rated #1 in the limited service category with a satisfaction rating of 83 percent, an increase of 5.1 percent from the previous year. Interestingly, the company in this category with the largest drop in customer satisfaction from last year was Starbucks. Often touted for its customer service, the coffee house fell from 80 percent in 2011 to 76 percent in 2012. 

Unfortunately, the lowly ranking should come as no big surprise for McDonald's management; the company has ranked last in the ACSI since 1995. In fact, its current rating of 73 percent is a percent higher than last year, and 73 percent is the highest rating ever achieved by McDonald's on the ACSI.Continue reading...


Ni Hao, Hamburger King: Why Burger King is Playing Catch-Up in China

Posted by Abe Sauer on June 20, 2012 10:51 AM

Many more Chinese consumers are about to be able to have it their way, as Burger King has announced an "accelerated" expansion in China, planning 1,000 new locations via a new joint venture in the next five to seven years.

Some are wondering if The King might not be offering too little, too late. The question should be, what way, exactly, do the Chinese want it?Continue reading...

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