BIG MAC BOOSTS CHICKEN OFFERINGS

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McDonald's Corp. is going after its competitors' chicken sales, launching the first advertising push behind Chicken McNuggets and the McGrilled Chicken sandwich in more than two years.

While McDonald's owns most of the top five hamburger brands-excluding Burger King's Whopper-it has yet to realize the success of Wendy's International when it comes to chicken sandwiches. The periodic TV support Wendy's gives chicken has built the business to roughly 10% of sales-"significantly greater" than McDonald's chicken sandwich sales, said Janice Meyer, a Prudential Securities analyst.

McDonald's last advertised McGrilled Chicken for its October 1993 introduction. National TV support for Chicken McNuggets has been absent even longer.

"It's funny. McDonald's created McNuggets, and it's been a very successful product for them. And yet it's not something they've done a lot with," Ms. Meyer said. McDonald's also offers a fried McChicken sandwich and Chunky Chicken salad.

The marketer will revive its chicken franchise in November, using the "Two Guys" now appearing in NFL-theme spots. DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, is creating the new chicken ads; the "Two Guys" characters were created by Leo Burnett USA.

The chicken push fits in with McDonald's yen to target families as a whole. That strategy is being laid out for franchisees and agencies in marketing meetings this fall, and is inherent in "McFamily," its new online site.

Executives familiar with the campaign couldn't say whether McDonald's would imbue the chicken ads with a "good for you" message, as Wendy's has done this year in a print campaign for salads.

McDonald's is protecting its McNuggets turf from KFC Corp., which this month introduced Colonel's Crispy Strips with a five-week TV and print campaign from Young & Rubicam, New York.

In addition, Wendy's is airing a chicken nuggets TV spot in Chicago and possibly other markets.

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