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McDonald’s Tries Something “Special” in Ireland

Filed under Advertising, Global Burgers, Marketing, Premium, Pricing, Upscale Burgers

[Update: As predicted Sunday, Hardee’s introduced Charbroiled Turkey burgers on March 21. They join the menu at Carl’s Jr. on March 23. See the TV commercial with Miss Turkey here.]
McDonald’s is refining its premium-tier menu strategy with the introduction of a new line of “Special Editions” menu items in Ireland. First up is the Ciabatta Deluxe, a high-end burger with tomato, lettuce, Emmental and Cheddar cheeses and what’s proudly labeled as a 100% Irish beef patty on a ciabatta roll. The introduction is being supported this week with a TV commercial closing with a new tagline, “There’s always something special at McDonald’s,” that can be used with subsequent Special Editions items (“I’m lovin’ it” is used as well).

What’s most interesting here is the sizzle rather than the steak. The Ciabatta Deluxe itself is much like several similar upscale burgers McDonald’s has offered in selected markets, such as the “Le M” in France, the “Der M” burger in Germany and last year’s Ciabatta Grande Deluxe in Italy.

important is how McDonald’s builds an aura of distinctiveness around the new burger in Ireland with the “Special Editions” name. It has used the same approach in introducing the “M Selections” menu in Australia, where the sell line is “Not schmancy, just a little bit fancy.” The shared strategy: Position an indulgent product with the promise of it being something very special. The approach has worked where McDonald’s has tried it, guaranteeing that it will be employed in more markets.

On the domestic front, Hardee’s is poised to announce a systemwide rollout of the Turkey Thickburgers that this site first wrote about in December. Originally tested in Missouri near the chain’s St. Louis headquarters, the turkey line has quietly popped up in Inidana and several Southeast markets as well in recent weeks.

The initial test included a basic $3.49 Turkey Thickburger (a ground-turkey patty with lettuce, onion and tomato) plus a $3.69 Mushroom Turkey Thickburger and a Hawaiian Turkey Thickburger (with pineapple slice, teriyaki sauce and Swiss cheese). The national rollout, though,will have plain, Mushroom & Swiss, Teriyaki (with pineapple), Guacamole and BBQ Ranch versions instead.