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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

McDonalds Japan Goes No-Brand with Quarter Pounder Shops

Quarter Pounder - check your clowns at the door
Quarter Pounder - check your clowns at the door

McDonalds Japan is testing the waters of no-brand marketing with newly opened Quarter Pounder stores in Tokyo.

Generic packaging, minimalist decor, a two-item menu - and not a clown in sight! That goes for the website as well. McDonalds Japan's dip into no-brand marketing comes as quite a shock to those who see the global burger master as the poster child for brand name advertising.

Word is, curious customers are lining up to get into Quarter Pounder's stark black & red shops. When they finally squeeze through the door, menu choices can be arrived at by a coin flip: a Quarter Pounder with Cheese Set for 500 yen (about $5.15) or a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese Set that goes for 600 yen (about $6.20). It's been noted by some that McDonalds burgers are smaller in Japan, so take that into account before judging whether either set is a good deal.

That's it! No shakes, no pies, no super-sizing, no Happy Meals. Not even a cheery "fries with that?" since they come included with each set.

Quarter Pounder may look low key, but make no mistake - the might of McDonalds' marketing has been put to good use promoting the concept. The "Quarter Pounder Big Secret" campaign utilizes ad venues from viral online marketing to hired hands handing out flyers to passersby.

Will McDonald's Quarter Pounder concept work? And, how long before trend-savvy Tokyoites realize that beneath the shiny new wrapper is the same old burger? (via Neil Duckett and Meta no Tame)


elo November 20, 2008 at 12:57 PM  

In no way is this brand-free...the Quarter Pounder is one of McDonald's brands.

A press release from McDonald's (at least according to a few other blogs) says that this is just to create buzz marketing for the Quarter Pounder (not yet on menus at McDonald's in Japan) as it's introduced.

Dr. Tantillo's just published a post on McDonald's on his marketing blog, in which he praises McDonald's for being so flexible and adapting to demand but prefaced this with: "The big things about McDonald’s cosmetic image (i.e., colors, designs, clown mascot) have never essentially changed. Neither has the basic serving and restaurant setup."
Guess they are even more flexible though... Tantillo's full post

Even though this is supposed to just be temporary/buzz marketing, I wonder if cultivating this sort of aesthetic wouldn't make sense for them--a move to diversify their holdings (they own a significant portion of Chipotle, or did last I knew) and expand/diversify their customer base (Ex. their 'unsnobby coffee' campaign. Tantillo did a post on
Starbucks/Dunkin' Donuts mentioning McDonald's coffee, too.