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McDonald’s 1955 Burger Arrives in France

[4/18 Update: Add Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland to the list of 1955 Burger markets.]
Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s restaurant on April 15, 1955, in Des Plaines, Ill. Now, 56 years later, nearly to the day, the chain gives a nod and wink to that date by introducing the 1955 Burger in France. Since first being introduced as an LTO last fall in Germany, the 1955 has been a surprising success story for the world’s biggest restaurant chain. 

Part of the surprise is that the 1955 has no obvious “wow” ingredient: The build is beef, lettuce, grilled onion, tomato, bacon, ketchup and smoky barbecue sauce. Yet it clicked with consumers immediately in Germany and since has been moved to menus in Spain, Portugal, Austria, Belgium and Italy. 

In January, McDonald’s CEO spotlighted the burger as one reason for Europe’s posting a 4.4% comp-sales increase in 2010 (compared with 3.8% for the U.S.) “Sales results were above expectations for the new 1955 sandwich, a premium burger with a homemade look and gourmet bun,” Skinner told analysts. 

succeeded in Germany and now moving into France, the 1955 Burger seems destined to also find its way onto the menu in McDonald’s UK stores. In his January analyst call, Skinner acknowledged that “the Big Three—U.K., Germany and France—are big drivers of our business” in Europe. At the beginning of the year, McDonald’s had about 1,200 stores each in France and the UK, with another 1,400 in Germany. It operates more than 14,000 locations in the U.S. 

 The 1955 Burger made its debut in Germany with a TV commercial (above, left) from agency Heye and Partners. The ad spins a tale about a Chicago housewife in 1955 creating a delicious burger in her kitchen and a McDonald’s employee rediscovering that burger recipe today. A later version of the spot downplays the storytelling. 

1955 introduction in France uses versions of commercials previously used in Italy and Spain and created by agency TBWA Madrid.  These spots (at left) have a rock ‘n roll and ‘50s feel. The France campaign also has a Facebook element. TBWA Paris is McDonald’s agency in France. Leo Burnett handles the chain’s ads in the UK.

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