"The typical impression of McDonald's is that it's high calories
and high cholesterol," Bob Dorfman, exec creative director at San
Francisco-based Baker Street Advertising, said in an interview. "It
makes sense to nab somebody like Gabby Douglas" because she
espouses a healthy lifestyle and appeals to a younger crowd.
National marketing for the 250-calorie sandwich starts April 29
and includes print, billboard, radio and TV ads. One ad reads
"Great taste, all yolks aside." Another says "We're turning
breakfast on its head." Ms. Douglas won't appear in any of the ads
-- she will promote the egg whites at McDonald's events, including
one at a restaurant in New York City today.
"It's all about promoting choice," Noelle Laughter,
director-marketing for McDonald's USA, said in an interview. "It's
not a replacement of Egg McMuffin." She declined to say how much
McDonald's is spending on the campaign and how much it paid the
"I love egg whites as part of my normal breakfast routine, so
the new Egg White Delight McMuffin is perfect for me,'' Ms. Douglas
said in an e-mailed statement.
Douglas, who was 16 years-old when she won her medals, already
had a promotion agreement with Kellogg Co., which put the gymnast on
the cover of its Corn Flakes box.
The endorsement ended in November, Sandy Uridge, senior director
of integrated promotions at the Battle Creek, Michigan- based
company, said in an e-mailed statement. She declined to say how
much Ms. Douglas was paid for the deal.
Nicknamed the "Flying Squirrel," Ms. Douglas made headlines last
year when she told Jay Leno that she "splurged" on an McDonald's
Egg McMuffin, which has 300 calories, to celebrate her Olympic
wins. First Lady Michelle Obama, founder of the "Let's Move"
campaign to fight childhood obesity, and also a guest on NBC's "The
Tonight Show" that night, said in response: "You're setting me
McDonald's revenue has stagnated during the last four quarters
as the chain has faced more competition from Burger King Worldwide
and Yum Brands' Taco Bell
-- both of which are introducing healthier new items. Last week,
the Big Mac seller posted first-quarter profit that was little
changed as same-store sales slumped 1.2% in the U.S.
That weakness is continuing this month, and comparable-store
sales are expected to decline in April, Chief Executive Officer Don
Thompson said in a statement on April 19.
While McDonald's is promoting some healthier food, the bulk of
sales still come from the chain's more familiar items, Peter Saleh,
a New York-based analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, said in an
"Nothing is ever really going to top the Big Mac or the Chicken
McNuggets," he said. "Those are the core items that drive the
majority of their business."
A Big Mac has 550 calories, while six Chicken McNuggets have 280
The suggested price of the new product is $2.69, while the
370-calorie Sausage McMuffin and Sausage Biscuit, with 430
calories, are on the chain's so-called dollar menu.
Promoting items with Olympic athletes can be risky because they
don't have a lot of "staying power," Mr. Dorfman said.
When Ms. Douglas finished the games last year, "she was the
darling of America," he said. "Now that's faded a little bit."