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Quarter Pounder Rids Itself Of The McDonald’s Brand

Quarter Pounder Logo

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.

Quarter Pounder Restaurant

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.

Quarter Pounder Menu

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.

The Good:

  • Drastic non-brand allows the food to speak for itself.
  • Mystery and exclusivity builds instant buzz.
  • Nightclub feel gives the food a perceived quality.

The Bad:

  • 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.

The Future:

  • 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.

McDonald’s – Quarter Pounder

Wallets From The King Help Sell Burgers

Burger King Wallet

Burger King continues to impress me with their unconventional advertising. First, they created the Burger King Studio to give the brand a bit of a lifestyle angle, and now, they’re dropping The King’s wallets in major metropolitan areas to help out during the credit crunch.

Burger King Wallet Contents

The wallets contain a Burger King Crown Card pre-loaded with $5 to $20, cash ranging from $1 to $100 with stickers of The King’s face in place of the president’s, The King’s ID and business card, a receipt from Burger Bling complete with The King’s latest purchases, a map of nearby Burger King locations, and a sticker that says “Attention Would-Be Good Samaritan! Don’t worry about lost & found. The King wants you to keep this wallet and everything in it.”

To dispense these wallets, The King’s people walk around town and ‘drop’ the wallets in highly trafficked areas. If the person that finds the wallet tries to quickly return it to them, they simply smile and kindly reply, “Don’t worry; It’s on The King.”

McDonald's Wallet

Unfortunately for Burger King, it looks like McDonald’s beat them to the punch, so they can’t claim the ‘lost wallet’ idea as their own, but as is often the case with great ideas, this one bears repeating, and BK did such an excellent job with the look and feel of this campaign that I’m impressed with just the execution alone. Plus, as demonstrated by the amount of blog coverage that the campaign has received, it’s also well timed, and is ringing true during a period where everyone’s purse strings are pulled a little tighter.

The Good:

  • Unexpected and clever campaign ensures word of mouth buzz, as well as additional media coverage.
  • Everything in the wallet leads the consumer into a local Burger King restaurant for an in-store experience.
  • Extends and personifies the idea of ‘The King’.

The Bad:

  • Limited and expensive coverage due to material costs.
  • Works better in major cities than it does in small towns.

The Future:

  • Clever and creative ‘on the street’ advertising impresses consumers and cuts through their ad filter to speak directly to their fundamental needs. (In this case, cheap food and more money!)

Burger King Wallets, Time Out Chicago

Gum Elections Let People Vote For Your Brand

Gum Election

The Gum Election was a guerilla art project that started in New York City as a way to encourage people to vote, as well as to encourage them not to spit out their chewing gum carelessly on the already dirty streets.

Posters were printed and placed at more than 50 ‘hot spots’ throughout the city, and each encouraged passerbys to stick their gum to their least favorite candidate’s face. Results could then be counted, and each poster’s message grew stronger as the gum count grew to match.

However, the beauty of the Gum Election was not that it gave people an excuse to stick their gum to something, but rather that it gave people a voice, and let them express that voice with tools they already had at hand in a way that was easy to understand and take part in.

Gum Election Detail

Forget blind taste tests and compensated focus groups; if you want to know what people really think of your product, just put out posters with you and your main competitor on them and see where the gum lands.

Keep in mind that for this to work as an advertising program, you probably want to be pretty sure of the results beforehand, but regardless of what happens, you’re still getting your brand in front of plenty of eager eyes, and doing so in an approachable and interactive way.

In addition, this idea could easily expand online with digital vote counts, webcams of the posters, banner ads, and more. By turning the vote into a larger phenomenon, people will actively seek out the posters so that they can take part, and you’ll get additional response just from the power of social validation.

Gum Elections are definitely not the cleanest way to advertise your brand, and they’re also not the most legal, but if you’re looking for a way to show up the competition, they just might be the most fun.

The Good:

  • Interactive ads and social validation encourage participation.
  • Easy to recognize and understand.
  • Expandable into other channels.
  • Uniqueness cuts through ad filter.

The Bad:

  • Guerilla nature of the campaign makes legality questionable.
  • Restricts target demographic by location and age.
  • Risk of losing the vote.

The Future:

  • Interactive ads give customers a voice, and let them easily share that voice with others.

Gum Election