McDonald's to halt Campaign 55 effort

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Top McDonald's Corp. managers in a conference call yesterday decided to end the company's Campaign 55 strategy under pressure from franchisees who say it isn't a hit at the cash register, said executives familiar with the company.

It was unclear exactly when Campaign 55 would end or what new strategy would replace it.

The McDonald's managers concluded in the June 2 call that Campaign 55, launched only weeks ago, has failed to excite consumers and lead to sufficient sales increases, said insiders. The campaign, always controversial, began in April and was expected to last 18 months.

McDonald's likely will preserve the "My McDonald's" theme in its TV advertising, created by Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, the insiders said. Burnett declined comment.

McDonald's Chairman-CEO Michael Quinlan and Ed Rensi, president-CEO of McDonald's USA, were among the executives present at a separate meeting with California franchisees June 2-3 in Sacramento. Franchisees nationwide have been vocal critics of the "Campaign 55" program and reportedly broached the subject at the Sacramento meeting. McDonald's Corp. didn't return calls today. On Monday, a spokeswoman said "Campaign 55" remained the company's long-term marketing program.

The decision to end the program stemmed from disappointing May sales results, said executives close to the company. Analysts today said McDonald's same-store sales in May fell 4% to 5% despite heavy TV, radio, outdoor and in-store advertising to support "Campaign 55 " and "My Size Meals," which offer a 55-cent sandwich with the purchase of any size drink and fry. Analysts predicted June same-store sales will also be negative despite a planned tie-in promotion with the Walt Disney Co. film "Hercules."

Insiders have said McDonald's own research shows that "My Size Meals" are confusing to customers, who think they replace the Extra Value Meal.

"Campaign 55" was designed to tout four elements of McDonald's: operations, service, taste and value, over an 18 month period. These are qualities the company still intends to promote in its advertising, insiders said.

Goodyear sues Bridgestone: Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. asked a federal court in Akron, Ohio, to halt national advertising for Bridgestone-Firestone's FT70c tire. Goodyear charged the ads falsely claim the FT70c tires provide superior stopping performance to Goodyear's Aquatred II. Bridgestone said it hadn't seen the suit and declined comment. Brigestone recently denied its $15 million account was in review. TBWA Chiat/Day, New York, handles.

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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