MCDONALD'S STILL HUNGRY FOR NAT'L PRICE PROMOTION: QUESTIONS REMAIN: WHICH PRODUCT? WHICH PRICE?

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McDonald's Corp., after failing to convince franchisees on its advertising committee to approve two promotions to follow the pulled "Campaign 55," held another session with the group and its ad agencies Friday.

Results of the meeting could not be learned by press time.

Executives with knowledge of the talks said McDonald's, despite "Campaign 55's" failure, seems determined to continue the course of a national program with a strong pricing element, even if it also goes ahead with a proposal to ratchet up local price efforts.

At a first meeting on June 6, the ad board is said to have voted down both a breakfast promotion and a 99cents price offer.

'HERCULES' OFFERING

An interim program is said to be planned tied to Walt Disney Co.'s "Hercules" offering a triple cheeseburger for under 99 cents.

"They're down to [marketing] on a day-to-day basis right now," said an executive close to McDonald's. "They are trying to build sales now, rather than becoming a tactical retail marketer."

"McDonald's seems to be more concerned with Wall Street than the consumer," he said, noting that international sales are climbing.

Other executives familiar with McDonald's plans, however, maintain that while a national price promotion is being discussed, it's

only one of several options.

For an immediate sales lift, "most operators would like to see some price program in quickly, even on the national level," said the executive close to McDonald's. "But it's hard to get agreement on which product and which price."

McDonald's executives did not return calls by press time.

Further hampering an immediate recovery plan is McDonald's summer promotional calendar. It's locked into promoting Disney's "Hercules" and "George of the Jungle" throughout most of the season, said entertainment industry executives.

What's not figuring into the discussions so far is a basic issue of McDonald's food, which has taken a bashing in the press of late.

The other question is whether any McDonald's executive-or ad agency-will become a sacrificial lamb of "Campaign 55."

Burnett now is adding the phrase "trusted friend" to the "My McDonald's" ads, Crain's Chicago Business reports today.

"There is some finger-pointing going on," said the executive, "but right now, McDonald's is focused on what to do immediately. Maybe in four to six months there will be management changes, but it won't be radical."

Whatever McDonald's does will inevitably affect the marketing budgetary process for next year and perhaps even the local/national marketing split.

"There's a lot of ire being expressed from the field," said the source close to McDonald's. "They feel they were muscled into a two-year program and six weeks later it's dead. There's a credibility issue here."

Contributing: Chuck Ross, Jeff Jensen

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