MCD'S DECLARES 'CAMPAIGN 55' WILL STAY: BURGER GIANT ALSO READIES AD PITCH TO EXPAND 'SPEEDY' DRIVE-THROUGHS

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McDonald's Corp. executives reaffirmed their commitment to "Campaign 55" at the company's annual meeting last week, even as they acknowledged the strategy is causing some confusion among customers.

Hinting at upcoming marketing pushes behind drive-through service and a possible new chicken product, McDonald's CEO Michael Quinlan said "Campaign 55" has produced "varying levels of success as a transaction driver."

"We do know customers have been confused," Mr. Quinlan said. "We plan to clear it up in phase two" of the campaign (AA, May 12, et seq).

PRICE SWITCH

Late last week, the chain switched the 55-cent pricing to the Quarter Pounder With Cheese from the Big Mac.

McDonald's USA President-CEO Ed Rensi hinted the speedy drive-through service program now testing in Oregon and Connecticut could soon be expanded. He showed a test TV spot in which cars race by the drive-through window, handing over their money and grabbing their bags without braking.

"Welcome to the fast lane" is the tagline for that commercial.

As for "Campaign 55," a memo went out to franchisees last week that said new in-store signs should help communicate "what a 'My Size Meal' is," reduce confusion about pricing and ensure "customers recognize the value of the 'My Size Meal' offer."

EXTRA VALUE MEAL CONFUSION

One executive close to "Campaign 55" said consumers don't understand that the "My Size Meal" doesn't replace the Extra Value Meal.

"The beauty of the Extra Value Meal is all you need to know is if you have $3 in your pocket, you'll get something," he said.

Following seven quarters of disappointing U.S. results at the fast-food leader, McDonald's and "Campaign 55" agency Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, are under intense pressure to make the program work. McDonald's samestore sales have been negative every quarter since early 1995, until ticking up 1.2% the first quarter of this year, according to Dean Haskell, an analyst with Everen Securities.

Archrival Burger King Corp.'s Whopper-focused advertising has led to market share and same-store sales gains at the No. 2 chain.

McDonald's executives at the shareholder gathering confirmed reports of a pending management reorganization but would not elaborate.

People familiar with the reorganization said McDonald's plans to appoint eight

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