Burger King Futures.

    The Web’s Specialty.

    Fast Food Marketing

    The Bloated Middle of Marketing.


    Taco Bell recently sold its 200 millionth Doritos Loco Taco.  They started selling these babies in March.  That’s thinking outside the bun.  From a marketing standpoint.  Not sure whose idea this new product was, but it was marketing genius. For those who think marketing is all about promotion (We need a contest on the website!) or advertising (Let’s hire Barton Graf 9000), this new product launch shows that business building starts with product.

    I joked in a Tweet yesterday (@spoppe) that the new product probably resulted from something as simple as someone spilling a bag of Dorito’s in the Yum Brands Test kitchen; the reality is, the idea to merge a Taco Bell taco and a Dorito’s shell was not even that difficult. It was product innovation based on an idea. A simple idea. (I’d be interested to monitor how sales of bags of Dorito’s go over the next few quarters, but that’s a question for a different post.)

    200 million anything is a marketing woosh. I love advertising, but all those Dorito’s ads on the Super Bowl the last 10 years and all the think outside the bun and Chihuahua ads in recent memory are orchestrated noise compared to one good product idea.

    Any good brand planner knows marketing starts with the product. And it ends with the consumer.  But as an industry we spend too much time in the middle – playing with tactics and ads and “likes” and dashboards.  Let’s get our focus out of the middle and back on the product. Peace! 


    Not So Happy Meals.


    McDonald’s is taking a lot of heat for pushing high calorie, high-fat products to children and promoting them with toys in their Happy Meals.  (Full disclosure, the wifus buys happy meals for the value and portion size.)  Michelle Obama is doing good work in this neighborhood, setting the tone and fighting childhood obesity. We all need to jump on that bandwagon.

    Here’s my take. If we can put a TV into a phone, we can probably find a tasty, healthy alternative to french fries, soda, cheese burgers and salt.  McDonald’s answer is to reduce the number of fries in the Happy Meal and add some apple slices.  Have you ever had apple slices in a bag? 

    So here you go Mickey Ds – get a few chemists in the room, along with some nutritionists, commodity traders and a chef or three and fix this thing.  If anyone can, you can. BTW, I’d love someone to invent a quarter pounder with cheese that doesn’t send my cholesterol all aflutter.  I love that burger but refuse to eat it.   

    It’s a big planet.  We grow lots of things on this planet.  In the next millennium we’ll engineer food things that grow that are unlike anything we’ve ever seen or eaten before. Healthy things.  Fast food companies that invent and package good tasting healthy food products will be the new clean tech. (Another area in need of leadership.)  Peace!

    When Yum Ain’t Yum.


    Yum brands announced lower earnings yesterday attributed to continued poor sales at Pizza Hut. Yum’s two other main fast food chains KFC and Taco Bell continue to perform well.

    Here’s the thing. Yum Brands has cornered the market in some of the least healthy food offerings in the U.S. Smart companies in the business of serving less-than-healthy products (read Coke and Pepsi) know to hedge their bets with better for you offerings. Yum is a hold out. Sure they can put a salad on the menu and maybe a grilled offering, but it doesn’t change the scourge that is their high calorie, high cholesterol menus.

    So where the innovation at? More pizzas with peperoni stuffed in the crust?

    Were I in charge of Yum I’d innovate and introduce a completely new fast food chain. One intent on feeding the preyed upon chronic fast food eaters with healthier foods. I’m not talking Sweetgreen exactly, but in that direction.

    Find ways to meet the cravings of the salt-happy, crunchy fried-food leaning diners. A la the air fryer people. And do so at an attractive price point. Look beyond the dashboard and spend some R&D money. Then strap on a pair of huevos and go for it.

    There is pent-up demand for convenient, tasty, fast food that doesn’t cause obesity. If anyone knows the competition it’s Yum. It’s time to do the right thing. Which is also the smart economic thing.



    The Web’s Specialty.


    There’s a cool story in today’s New York Times about single-food restaurants. It stands to reason that enterprises of this type can only thrive if the food is excellent and the stores located in highly populated areas.  In NYC you can take out and, in some cases, eat in at a Mac and Cheese store or a meatball store. There are places that sell only mussels, only rice pudding, and only fried chicken. It’s a growing phenomenon. Specialization suggests focus; a focus on quality, ingredients, product and knowledge.

    In mid-town Manhattan, where there are probably a half million lunches served within walking distance of any high-rise, there are lots of options. So why not go to the best option; the place that specializes? The place that eats, breathe and sleeps its specialty. Forget me not that this type of store can scale well and have a supply chain with amazingly fat margin opportunities. That’s gravy at the gravy store.

    This is a key chapter in the story of the Web — and where the web is going.

    I’ve written before about “worldwide pricing” and the ability to search the world for the best prices.  Well, how about searching the world for the best quality? The ability to do so is a web app. And specialization and focus are the tools of that trade.

    We are bound by product and service mediocrity because of geographic and time limitations. And because of supply and demand.  Well, say buh-bye to these barriers.  Ima stop there and let you entrepreneurs ponder that for a while. Ponder, Ponder.  Peace!