While Burger King is off personifying The King, McDonald’s is trying to build a little buzz of their own around the nationwide launch of their Quarter Pounder burgers in Japan.
To do so, they set up a pair of non-branded, non-golden arched restaurants in Tokyo called “Quarter Pounder” that from the outside appear to be nothing more than black buildings with giant red borders and a picture of the Double Quarter Pounder in the window. Other than the door guards that hand out fliers to passerby’s, the buildings basically speak for themselves.
Inside, the restaurant is more nightclub than fast food joint with black walls and seating accented only by the red that continues to be a main theme throughout.
As for the menu, McDonald’s has taken a cue from In-N-Out Burger and put only two items on it: The Quarter Pounder and The Double Quarter Pounder. Each comes with the requisite fries and a soda, but you couldn’t super size them if you tried. Even the packaging itself is kept to a minimum with the name of the product written on the outside of rather non-descript red wrapping that covers everything.
In America, a rebrand like this for a corporation (or should I say institution) like McDonald’s would be front page headlines across the country, but in Japan, it may be just the thing that Ronald needs to break away from the American stereotype and into the minds, wallets and stomachs of a whole new generation of Japanese consumer.
- Drastic non-brand allows the food to speak for itself.
- Mystery and exclusivity builds instant buzz.
- Nightclub feel gives the food a perceived quality.
- Inconsistent branding is confusing for repeat customers post-change.
- Works better in new markets.
- Off-putting for those that were attached to the old brand.
- Re-purposing existing products allows large brands to penetrate new markets, and they experiment with re-branding and a focus on their core product line as growth stagnates due to saturation.