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‘Berry Kristmush’ from Burger King!

BK_Japan_KristmushBurger King in Japan is wishing everyone a “Berry Kristmush.” That’s the culture-mashing message accompanying the chain’s new holiday menu that begins November 17.

One offering is the unfortunately named Mush’n’Cheese burger. Luckily that topping is chopped mushrooms, not mush, plus cheese. It’s priced at ¥480 (US$4.15).

Then there’s the Premium Berry burger, topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato…and cranberries. A la carte it’s ¥590 or US$5.10.

Burger King Japan has a proud history of outlandish holiday menus, including the NY Pizza Burger in 2010. That was followed by the Pizza-Size Burgers in 2011.

Neil Perry Gives Australia a ‘People’s Burger’

Acclaimed Australian chef-restaurateur Neil Perry has opened Burger Project, a new Sydney burger bar that appears to raise the bar for celebrity-chef burger pomposity.

The Australian burger of Neil Perry's dreams: Beef, lettuce, tomato, onions, bacon and cheese and sauce that isn't mayonnaise.

The Australian burger of Neil Perry’s dreams: Beef, lettuce, tomato, onions, bacon and cheese and sauce that isn’t mayonnaise.

The bar menu at Perry’s Rockpool Bar & Grill is famed for its AU$24 (US$21) Wagyu beef burger with bacon, Gruyère cheese and Zuni pickle. You know it’s famous because the Burger Project site calls it “one of the world’s great gourmet burgers.” For the 100-seat Burger Project, Perry has made the burger more affordable, even labeling it “the people’s burger.” In place of Wagyu is 36-month grass-fed Cape Grim beef chuck and brisket ground in-house. Served with onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and a “secret sauce,” the basic burger is a people-friendly AU$7.90 (US$6.90). A Double Is AU$12.90

Also are available are The Korean (with kimchi, onion, lettuce and spicy Korean dressing for AU$8.90), a Spicy Pork Belly (crispy free-range pork belly with salted chill, pickles, pickled slaw and lettuce for AU$9.90). For non-meat eaters, a Magic Mushrooms burger has grilled confit mushrooms, cheese, onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce and the secret sauce. Pork and chicken hot dogs and crispy chicken wings also offered.

In an online review for ConcretePlayground, Kara Jensen-Mackinnon applauded Burger Project’s decision to serve its burgers in “crisp white paper bags” on trays. “They’re not those shameful late night American style burgers that are currently trending in Sydney,” she sniffed with appropriate culinary xenophobia. Click here to continue reading Neil Perry Gives Australia a ‘People’s Burger’

McDonald’s Abandons ‘You Deserve a Break’ Rights

Keith Reinhard, the legendary ad man who created “You deserve a break today” in 1970, recently recalled that a McDonald’s exec asked how long he thought the campaign would last. “I said, ‘You should stop running this campaign when people no longer deserve a break,’” Reinhard, now chairman emeritus of DDB Needham, told Advertising Age.

Are we really there?

It’s likely more symbolic than significant, but 43 years after the slogan was written for McDonald’s first national TV campaign, putting the brand on the map, McDonald’s Corp. has abandoned its trademark for “You deserve a break today.” Ad Age rated it the top advertising jingle of the 20th Century. Now it can be yours for as little as $159.

Reinhard was a creative director at Chicago agency Needham, Harper & Steers in 1970 when it was among the agencies invited to pitch McDonald’s national ad account, which was valued then at an impressive $35 million. Last year it reportedly spent $1.43 billion on U.S. advertising, with DDB Needham still its lead U.S. agency.

If you think that “You deserve a break today” is a bit corny, realize that a McDonald’s executive raised that same objection when the line was pitched. He was overruled. “[McDonald’s Corp. Founder and Chairman] Ray Kroc said in his high-pitched voice, ‘Nothing wrong with a little corn!’” Reinhard recalled him saying. “And I knew we were in good shape.”

Reinhard–whose book “Any Wednesday” was published earlier this year–has said that part of the power of the line he wrote was that “You deserve…” granted consumers permission to indulge in a fast-food meal at McDonald’s. And the lyrics were particularly appealing to Kroc, who was a stickler about cleanliness:

Grab a bucket and mop,McD_DeserveABreak1995
Scrub the bottom and top.
There is nothing so clean
As my burger machine!

With a broom and a brush
Clean it up for the rush
Before you open the door,
Put a shine on the floor!

When we’ve finished, what then?
Start all over again!
Tell me, what does it mean?
At McDonald’s it’s clean!”

You deserve a break today!
So get up and get away!
To McDonald’s! McDonald’s! McDonald’s!

Click here to continue reading McDonald’s Abandons ‘You Deserve a Break’ Rights

BK Joining Crowded Indian Burger Market

Burger King’s announcement that it will open its first location in India this month doesn’t mean it has run out of more-burger-friendly markets. Long considered a tough sell for burger chains because 42% its roughly 1.2 billion citizens are vegetarians, India has become a new hot destination for American brands. Estimated by researcher Technopak to be a $2.5 billion market in 2013, India’s chain-restaurant business is projected to hit $8 billion in 2020.

Dunkin' Donuts added a line of Tough Guy burgers in India last year.

Dunkin’ Donuts added a line of Tough Guy burgers in India last year.

The present wave of new burger players comes not only because India is more receptive but also because the creative revolution that U.S. burger bars have spawned means non-beef and non-meat burgers no longer are considered second-class alternatives. Inventive chicken and veggie burgers are commonplace here. The burger market is ready for India.

What India’s burger market lacks in carnivorism it makes up in style and sass. The country exhibits a flair for burger names that rival those at burger joints here. And they can come from unexpected sources: Promo materials for Dunkin’ Donuts’ Tough Guy Brute Burger promise “a bulked up black kidney bean core that just wants to take you out. Think you can handle it?”

Dunkin’ Donuts, which has 38 Indian locations, added its line of four vegetarian and four meat burgers last year. Prices range from Rs. 59 (US 96¢) for a Potato Hash Brown Burger to Rs. 170 (US$2.77) for the Heaven Can Wait Burger, which combines a spicy chicken patty and chopped vegetables with chili mayo and cheesy jalapeňo sauce. Click here to continue reading BK Joining Crowded Indian Burger Market

Wendy’s Rebalances its Menu Marketing

Wendy’s said it is refining its marketing strategy in light of Q3 results that show it lost its “high-low” pricing balance.

BBQ Pulled Pork is meeting sales expectations, Wendy's CEO said.

BBQ Pulled Pork is meeting sales expectations, Wendy’s CEO said.

For the quarter, Wendy’s reported a 2% increase in same-store sales at company-owned units and just a 0.5% increase at franchised stores (which for 85% of its system). That 2% increase was a problematic improvement, however. Divulged in the 10-Q Wendy’s filed with the SEC but not mentioned in its quarterly press release is that same-store sales were up “due to an increase in our average per customer check amount, in part offset by a decrease in customer count.”

Like Red Robin, which has encountered a similar problem this year, Wendy’s has been losing customers at the low-end of the price spectrum but is making up for that loss through sales of more high-priced menu items. Wendy’s President-CEO Emil Brolick said the chain “lost momentum in our value segment late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter” by promoting premium-price items such as the Pretzel Pub Chicken, Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche and the current BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches. To remedy the imbalance, Wendy’s has increased marketing support for its Right Price, Right Size value menu (just as Red Robin upped advertising for its lowest-price Tavern Double burger).

Wendy's has promoted premium items such as the Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche.

Wendy’s has promoted premium items such as the Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche.

Brolick said that about 25% of QSR customers are in the price-value segment that buys largely from the bottom of the menu. That makes it large enough that Wendy’s “can’t just not deal with that group,” Brolick said. Both Right Price and premium-product advertising will continue to air simultaneously.

Given that Wendy’s says it saw a net decline in customer count for the quarter, Brolick’s suggestion to one analyst today that “we have benefited” from McDonald’s loss of market share seems curious if not spurious.

Brolick said Wendy’s is “realigning and reinvesting our resources” to devote more capital to restaurant development and “consumer-facing technology.” Wendy’s opened just three company stores in Q3 while closing four. As for technology, mobile ordering and payment capabilities may be implemented next year. The company also plans to continue refranchising many of the 995 company-owned restaurants. The previously announced sale of 135 company stores in Canada should close next year.

Wendy’s continues its remodeling program which it persists in calling “image reactivation.” In 2014 it expects to have completed 200 company-store reimagings as well as 175-200 franchised store makeovers.

Burger King, Red Robin Assess Q3 Sales

Burger King and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers reported Q3 sales today and the contrast between them was sharp. BK surprised Wall Street with its strongest performance in two years while Red Robin continued to battle back from the marketing mistakes it made earlier this year.

BK_ChickenFries3Burger King reported a 2.4% increase in global same-store sales, led by its performance in the U.S. and Canada (+3.6%). This contrasts with McDonald’s Corp. where sluggish U.S. sales are dragging down the global average.  But Burger King Ceo Daniel Schwartz called the quarter “transformational” for its strong sales and the previously announced merger with Tim Hortons. He credited the ongoing “strategy of launching fewer and more impactful products complemented by compelling value offerings” with boosting sales. Those new products included the A.1. Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger and the relaunch of Chicken Fries.

“The most important part about all of these initiatives is that they are operationally simple to execute and enable our franchisees to grow restaurant profitability, which is always our primary goal,” Schwartz told analysts.

EVP-President, North America, Alex Macedo, said that because Chicken Fries were revived in response to social-media requests, the relaunch was marketed almost totally via digital media. “Within the first 24 hours, the #chickenfriesareback hashtag had been twitted more than any of our previous multi-week digital and social media campaigns combined,” said Macedo. “That includes Satisfries and the NCAA March Madness campaigns, which were both very successful campaigns in their own right. Within the first 10 days of the campaign, Chicken Fries had been mentioned over 1 million times on Twitter.” Click here to continue reading Burger King, Red Robin Assess Q3 Sales

21 Thanksgiving Burger Specials

DMK Burger Bar

DMK Burger Bar

November. It’s a opportunity for chefs to finally use that sage, and they’re making the most of it (sage aïoli!). Many of the Burger of the Month specials at burger joints across the country (plus Canada and even Denmark) are destined to give diners their fill of turkey before the holiday rolls around. But there are some great burger builds here, so if you need burger creativity for your holiday menu, ask for the ideas to be passed to you.

The complete compilation of November’s Burger of the Month specials, even if they’re not Thanksgiving themed (check out Burger Revolution’s Warrior burger), can be accessed here. Enjoy.

5 Napkin Burger

5 Napkin Burger

5 Napkin Burger, multiple locations
Asiago Turkey Burger
House-made turkey patty topped with Asiago cheese, crispy pancetta, herb-roasted tomato, arugula and pesto mayo

5 Star Burgers, multiple locations, Southwest
Thanksgiving Turkey Burger ($10)
All-natural turkey breast, ground and hand-formed in-house and topped with sweet-potato waffle fries and cranberry aïoli

The Bad Apple, Chicago
Turkeys On Parade
Brie cheese, oven roasted turkey, walnut and dried cherry fall slaw on multi-grain bun

The Bronx Burger Bar, Copenhagen
Thanksgiving Burger
Burger with lettuce, red onion, mayo, breaded turkey and house-made cranberry sauce on top

Click here to continue reading 21 Thanksgiving Burger Specials

McDonald’s Tells Its Story with Puppets in Norway

McD_Norway-NothingAtAll-250For all its talk of a new commitment to digital media, McDonald’s isn’t afraid to embrace an old-fashioned medium to tell its product-quality story.

In Norway the chain has aired a four-minute puppet show TV commercial about the chain’s relationship with local farmers who provide its ingredients.  The long version was slated to air only on Nov. 1. Subsequently, 50-second versions of the commercial—from DDB Oslo–will be used. Two marionettes—a young man in a McDonald’s cap and an elderly farmer—are the central characters in the puppet drama.

The puppet drama is titled “Nothing At All” since its background music track is “When You Say Nothing at All,” popularized by American bluegrass singer Alison Krauss.