OAK BROOK, IL: McDonald's recent rollout of a number of non-traditional burger products has caused it to use more consumer-focused communications efforts after finding media fatigue in its rollouts.
Much of McDonald's recent success is attributable to those non-traditional products, as the QSR leader's menu offerings have changed along with the snacking habits of consumers. The result, the company said, is making McDonald's more than just a lunch and dinner destination.
New choices include three different types of snack wraps; the company's first new breakfast product in four years, the McSkillet Burrito; and specialty coffees being tested in markets in Michigan and California that will debut in 2009. And McDonald's is relying heavily on PR to help build and maintain interest in these products.
"We're doing this by expanding outside the traditional PR role," said Heather Oldani, director of US communications at McDonald's. "We're working with our agencies to develop programs that go directly to the consumer, the influencer, and to our own employees to engage them with the new product."
In promoting its newest snack wrap, the Chipotle BBQ, which debuted in August, it used a YouTube promotion, street teams, and an online viral effort.
"When you have a third flavor of a product in four months, it's a little hard to get news coverage," Oldani said. "So we felt it was better to go to the consumer with the message."
The McSkillet, however, was launched with a virtual press conference. Shannelle Armstrong, manager of US communications is leading the McSkillet efforts.
She said McDonald's would be "having another conversation with consumers" about McSkillet in February that will include nontraditional sampling and a lot more product integration at events in a more organic way.
"The news on McSkillet has been shared," said Oldani. "Now it's about further engaging and increasing the awareness and trial."
McDonald's is working with GolinHarris, IW Group, Burrell Communications, and Valencia, Perez & Echeveste Public Relations on these efforts.