Fast-food: Major change in execs deciding chain marketing direction

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While fast-feeders have sought to put greater focus on menus this past year, other marketing demands have cried out for more attention.

Nearly every major quick-service marketer has changed marketing leadership, overhauled kitchens and revamped food, but none has found a way to escape the addictions to fun and games, and discounting-key traffic-building bandages.

Menu mavens became marketing chiefs at several chains: Tom Ryan at McDonald's Corp., Emil Brolick at Taco Bell and Ken Calwell at Domino's Pizza.

McDonald's made investments in U.K. sandwich chain Pret A Manger and new concepts including McCafe coffee bars and Diner in a McDonald's. Diageo's Burger King Corp. renewed emphasis on the Whopper and Taco Bell vowed to upgrade its tacos and burritos with grilled meats and fresher produce. Wendy's International and Doctor's Associates' Subway Restaurants, among others, added vegetarian and spice-laden foods to menus to address consumer diversity and competition from multi-daypart "fast casual" concepts. Mad Cow disease also added pressure to a saturated market segment.


Still, while the largest fast-feeders promised franchisees they would reduce discounting to improve the bottom line, chains found it necessary to expand value menus and add local windows of low-priced food items and two-for-ones. Burger King put Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftWorldwide, a direct/promo agency, in charge of its marketing partners.

McDonald's continues to experiment with new value programs as it seeks to double its sales in five years and wean itself from toys. It dumped games administrator Simon Worldwide's Simon Marketing after learning the agency's security director had fixed the restaurant's games for well over a decade. After divulging the McScandal, the company launched a five-day promotion to give away $10 million of the prizes stolen.

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