taco bell routine republic goes up against mcdonalds

This “Routine Republic” ad campaign by Deutsch for Taco Bell is amazing. Ad types love it because they love dystopian ads reminiscent of the ad they all worship. But the Taco Bell ad actually works too. It takes the value propositions of Taco Bell’s breakfast menu against McDonalds and hits the nail on the head. It’s not subtle or hard to get.

Too bad my local Taco Bell doesn’t open until 7am and the clown dictator lets me in the door as early as 5:30a. I’ve stood outside the door at 7:05am at Taco Bell while the employees inside stared at me.

I guess the ad campaign is a waste if customers can’t get inside to buy.

I’ve said it time and time again. Operations, logistics, and customer service have a bigger impact (positive or negative) on branding and marketing than most ad campaigns do.

It is a good ad though. Reminds me of 1984.

fishy facts

  • Approximately 23% of the year’s sales of Filet-O-Fish sandwiches at McDonalds are purchased during a 40 day window that began today.
  • Filet-O-Fish was invented in 1962 by a Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky McDonald’s franchisee who had stores located in a predominantly Roman Catholic area.
  • The franchisee, Lou Groen, originally made the sandwich with high quality halibut, but the corporation made him switch to the cheaper Atlantic cod.
  • In order to get the Filet-O-Fish on the menu, Groen was challenged to a sales contest by Ray Kroc who also had a meatless idea called the Hula Burger which was nothing but a slice of pineapple on a bun. The Filet-O-Fish won.
  • The Filet-O-Fish was the first item added to the original McDonald’s core menu.
  • I have blogged my weird fascination of the relationship between fish, marketing, and Lent before.
  • I can’t eat a Filet-O-Fish without my gag reflex kicking in at least once.

All facts (except for the gag one) from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Mc-Iced

I continue to watch the attempted evolution of the McDonalds brand. It seems they to want to be the next Starbucks with all the coffee promotions they’ve been brewing lately.

McDonalds has introduced a new iced coffee drink. At least with iced coffee, they’ll avoid lawsuits from people spilling the cup in their laps. Unless they sue for frostbite instead of burns.

This is the latest in a long line of new products and store remodels that McDonalds is using to try to change the public perception of the McDonalds brand and branch out into other market segments.

I often rant that trying to “re-brand” is a pointless exercise. The brand is generated by the consumer, not dictated by the company.

For a majority of the public, the McDonalds brand still evokes the thoughts of unhealthy food, freakish clowns, and minimum wage workers. A chic coffee drink and premium chicken aren’t going to change that overnight.

And you can see the trouble they’re having in trying to change the perception. Only a few companies in the world have the money and public attention to try and pull a re-brand off. And they fail most of the time.

What makes you think you’re going to pull off a “re-brand” with your budget?

Cream and Sugar

Saturday afternoon on the way to Nashville, I stopped at a McDonalds to get a Coke. Here’s the conversation that the person in front of me had with the cashier…

GUY: Senior coffee, please

MICKEY D: Would you like for us to add the cream and sugar?

GUY: (While glancing down the counter at the cream and sugar) It’s right there.

MICKEY D: Would you like for us to add it?

GUY: Why? It’s right there.

MICKEY D: Silence and blank stare

GUY: Silence and blank stare

While the McDonalds counter guy couldn’t offer an answer….let me.

It’s because there was a committee meeting of the “premium” coffee folks in Oak Brook, IL. Phrases such as “compete with Dunkin Donuts”….”create a customer experience”….and “an upscale Starbucks interaction” were used heavily.

I’m sure they came out of the meeting thinking they had the next McDLT.

Of course, if they’d just asked a senior citizen and a teenager at a rural McDonalds off of I-65 what they thought of the idea, they’d told them….”but it’s right there!”

McDonalds next big and great ideas?
–Would you like for me to squirt ketchup on your fries?
–Would you like for me to chew your food?
–Would you like for me to have the angioplasty for you?

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Decaf Venti Amplification and Clarification with Foam

I wanted to clarify and add to my McDonalds “premium” post after something I saw on the news this morning. The focus of the story was that McDonalds is going after the morning coffee market now firmly held by Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.

The talking head from McDonalds’ marketing department was listing the reasons why the new “premium” coffee was better than competitors:: They have a “special bold blend…how studies show that people get their morning coffee to go (perfect for drive-throughs)…and that they had more retail locations for customer convenience. On paper, these are all good reasons to get into the coffee market and expect to win. However, consumers don’t buy things in a marketing analysis. They buy them in the real world.

So what will happen in the real world? When it began in Seattle, Starbucks was all about the coffee….and only the coffee. The customers were coffee fanatics that could taste the subtle differences in different coffees. And some of those people still come to Starbucks.

But most of Starbucks’ customers now go there to announce to the world the following statement about themselves:

“I just paid $2 more for a cup of coffee than I needed to. I must be affluent (or at least doing OK). I am also worldly and hip because I have conveyed my coffee needs to a barista this morning. Look at the cup that I drink from and draw your own conclusions!”

90% of Starbucks’ customers don’t go there for the coffee. They go there for the CUP.

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Changing Words – Changing Brands

Changing the way you talk about your product DOES NOT change the way consumers view your brand. In order to fully change a brand, you must change the consumer’s experience with your company…not just use different words to describe it.

Huge current case-in-point….
Sticking the word “Premium” in front of the words coffee, chicken sandwich, or salad doesn’t change these facts:

  • These “premium” items are being served next to pictures of a clown and a playland in front of the restaurant
  • These “premium” items are being served to me in paper/cardboard wrappers
  • The people crafting these “premium” foods view my order as one more item on an assembly line before the throw it on a plastic tray. (see previous burger flipper post.)
  • I’m eating my “premium” chicken sandwich/salad…and drinking my “premium” coffee in a plastic chair next to screaming kids eating Happy Meals while a disgruntled minimum-wage worker pushes a stinky mop next to my booth.

To change a brand…change the experience…not just the words.

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Tartar Sauce Update

Update on the Filet-o-Fish’s annual Marketing Spotlight

In the past, it was enough that the fish sandwich ads signaled the beginning of Lent. Of course, now in the new marketing world, there must be a online element.

McDonalds has launched a somewhat addictive online game. You must keep your Lenten meal away from the sharks.

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Filet-o-Fish Spotlight Time

You know Christmas is coming when you first spot Santa Claus.

The Fourth of July is on the way when a tent selling fireworks pops up.

And Lent is near when every fast-food chain starts touting its lowly fish sandwich that is unloved the rest of the year.

As a Baptist, I don’t officially observe Lent…but every year I do see it coming by way of marketing. I see the Fish Sandwich ads start and I know Easter is only 40 days away. For some weird reason, it fascinates me every year. My mind is focused on marketing too much.

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