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Wow. Carl's Jr. Spot Begets Yet Another Movie Parody

There's a lot of free advertising that goes to a message that catches the imagination of the public. The Carl's Jr. ad of Paris Hilton eating a burger while washing a Bentley (she's rich you know) keeps living on. The latest is the Date Movie movie trailer on television that parodies Mendelsohn/Zien Advertising Carl's Jr. commercial with Ms. Hilton. Says the Ad Agency:

"It's nice to know that we created something iconic," said Mick DiMaria, associate creative director and part of the team on the Carl's Jr. spot with Paris Hilton in next to nothing hosing down a Bentley while eating a hamburger. "The spot must have been shown thousands of times by now, a lot of free advertising for what is still a local fast-food chain. It just keeps going."

McDonald's Nutrition Labeling Begins at Winter Olympics

McDonald's announced its nutrition labeling begins in Torino. 26 restaurants in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games host city in Italy are the first McDonald's restaurants in the world to benefit from nutritional information on fast-food packaging. Nutrition information on packaging, which was announced as a company initiative by Chief Executive Officer Jim Skinner in October 2005, is among the first for large quick-service providers.

The new nutrition labels will be introduced later this month in the U.S..

According to Ohio's Beacon Journal, the labeling is in heiroglyphics to be used across languages.

Runaway Sloganeering

Join the band wagon or move to your own tune? That is the marketing question. Does McDonald's jingo "I'm lovin' it" work best or should it be "The World's Favorite Place to Eat"? The marketer in me finds the following comments from advertising guru Jack Trout fascinating.

The King Plans IPO

Events in the fast-food world have been heating up fast in the past few weeks, with things such as the hugely successful IPO of Chipotle by McDonalds or big plans that lay ahead. Not to be upstaged, Burger King is making some really big news this week - with an initial public offering announced and this Sunday's rare Superbowl ad. BK's parent company said Wednesday it plans to sell shares to the public for the first time in the fast-food chain's 52-year history. The Wall Street Journal ($$) adds:

Burger King's planned initial public offering is expected to raise at least $300 million and be one of the largest restaurant deals in recent years, as its private equity parents take advantage of strong recent demand for franchise food offerings.

Chipotle's IPO Sizzles Spicier than a Three-Alarm Hot Sauce!

The initial public offering of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.'s stock Thursday was spicier than a three-alarm hot sauce. Chipotle, which offers cafeteria-style made-to-order burritos (and a higher average ticket price than its competition) is owned by the McDonald's Corporation. The Denver-based quickservice restaurant chain's shares ended their first day of trading at $44 a share, up exactly twofold from its $22 price. It raised $173 million by offering 7.88 million shares priced above its $18-to-$20 price range. The Wall Street Journal ($$) euphorically writes about the event:

"This has probably been the happiest experiment McDonald's has ever tried," says Malcolm M. Knapp, president of New York restaurant consultant Malcolm M. Knapp Inc., of the burger chain's 1998 investment in Chipotle. 'I think it's a very strong restaurant concept, it's got good management, they understand food quality, and they are in touch with their consumer base.'"

Aye Chihuahua! Wall Street apparently sizzles over Chipotle's restaurant concept.

All is not euphoric though. There is also a word of caution.

Get Ready for a Quantum Leap in Drive-through

Drive-through service can represent a huge part of sales for a fast-food franchise -- 70 percent at a typical Burger King franchise. The largest franchise chains this year may finally be in a position to make major breakthroughs from the standard 3 minutes in drive-through time. The Associated Press reports that fast-food chains are positioned to make major improvements in pushing drive-through throughput by doing the following.

Companies are trimming bulky text from menus, using computer programs that guess upcoming orders, and routing order-taking duties to call centers. While speed remains a benchmark of success, the average service time hasn't been cut much below about three minutes for the last five years. That's why many chains are focusing instead on cutting down on the number of mistakes in orders and making ordering easier.

48% or More of Quizno's Unprofitable?

Getting any kind of earnings or break-even reports on franchises is not an easy task. But recently one of the members of Franchise Pundit, an outstanding blog in the franchise blogosphere, found an explosive earnings estimate report for Quizno stores (pdf file). The report estimates only 50% of the restaurants in their whole network have positive earnings. The original report is posted on Quizno's independent franchisee association's website. Here's how Pundit describes the report.

"[It is] a document posted at the Toasted Subs Franchisee Association. The document purports to be a summary on Quiznos store profitability. Is it legitimate and accurate? I have no idea, but it’s probably in the ballpark. It’s apparently based on estimates gathered by franchisee sources reporting."


QSR Magazine Awards Best Small Quick Service Restaurants

The best small restaurant chains that have under 300 units have been judged by Quick Service Restaurant Magazine. And who are the top franchise chain winners that were awarded for their attention to quality? They are:

  • Fuddruckers
  • Taco Cabana
  • Donato's Pizza


Subway's Web Campaign a Hit

Subway's marketing campaign is taking off. Its web site, has become one of the top 8 fastest movers and shakers on the Internet. According to Alexa who ranks web traffic, the site has increased in traffic by 1400% in the last week. It was ranked 55,140th most trafficked website and this week is ranked 2,516.

Right after Christmas, Subway launched a marketing experiment aligning its brand even further with weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, an alternate to fattier burgers. The world's largest sandwich chain put spokesman Jared Fogle from its television ads to the phone line. Jared Fogle, whose 245-pound weight loss on Subway sandwiches has recorded motivational phone calls as part of a promotion aimed at people who have resolved to lose weight in 2006.

Subway originally arranged to have customers be able to call a nutrionist for a week to help them along their journey of fitness, which expired January 8. A more traditional TV effort and an in-store sweepstakes promotion supports the "Fresh Resolutions" campaign.

Besides fat losing motivational messages either recorded or for a few winners live chats with Mr. Fogle, participants can also win exercise equipment, a tropical body-buff vacation or other prize.

So, when I slim down through healthier eating habits and exercise, I can show off my new body on a tropical beach while my friends freeze at home? Pure genius.

Give that ad team a bonus for this brilliant scheme of creating a core group of Subway / healthier lifestyle devotees to evangelize the brand.

High Cost of Energy Squeezing Restaurants

Oil is a major ingredient in fourth-quarter restaurant earnings, particularly in casual dining. High energy costs are pinching both fast-food and casual-dining chain operators and their customers. Ruby Tuesday, Sonic Corp., P.F. Chang and others have lowered earnings estimates based on sky-rocketing natural gas prices. "Many restaurant chains are expected to post anemic year-ending numbers", declares a Chicago Tribune story on this sorry state of affairs. It goes on with the following insight:

"Several in the bar-and-grill segment, which is popular with middle-income patrons, experienced sluggish sales in the fourth quarter as consumers cut back on eating out...'Given consumer budgetary pressures from higher fuel costs, we believe the lower-income casual-dining customers are trading down to fast food,' Bear Stearns & Co. advised clients in a recent report."