Beef has long been the backbone of McDonald’s menu, but with chicken becoming increasingly popular among Kiwi diners, the iconic fast-food chain had to rethink its chicken offering.
The Chicken Challenge
Kiwis love their meat. We’re a nation of BBQ fanatics and carnivores; hardly surprising, given farming is the backbone of our economy. However, over the last 17 years, New Zealanders’ red meat consumption has dropped by 25kg per capita, while chicken consumption has increased by 8kg per capita (source: PIANZ).
Consumers’ evolving appetites are being driven by a number of factors including environmental consciousness, ethical concerns, health, and ever-tightening wallets. This has been great news for McDonald’s biggest competitor in New Zealand, KFC.
While McDonald’s overall market share in the QSR (quick-service restaurant) category is around three times that of KFC’s (50 percent vs 16 percent), the Colonel was well ahead in chicken sales, at 52 percent vs 32 per cent for McDonald’s.
KFC was beating McDonald’s not only in chicken sales, but in consumer perception regarding chicken products.
To combat this, McDonald’s needed to up its chicken game, both in terms of its products and its marketing. It committed to take a number of steps to boost its chicken portfolio:
- Introduce a high quality, whole-muscle chicken burger to its core menu (the McSpicy).
- Pulse tactical variations (e.g., Chicken Big Mac) and sides (e.g., boneless pieces) into the calendar.
- Better leverage its existing heroes (e.g., standalone promotion of Chicken Almighty).
- Use spice to drive hype and talkability
McDonald’s developed a long-term creative platform, ‘Serious About Chicken’, to elevate chicken as a pillar of the brand. It also needed distinctive branding, as recent attention studies completed by Karen Nelson-Field had identified misattribution as the number-one risk for McDonald’s communications globally.
Enter: the world’s most unsuspecting chicken spokesperson, Barry. He’s a quintessentially Kiwi, plaid-wearing, Hilux-commanding bloke, and proudly a third-generation beef farmer.
We first meet Barry covertly ordering a McSpicy from the Drive Thru. The creative idea? “McSpicy makes a chicken lover out of anyone”.
The new burger fit seamlessly into an already busy kitchen, without running the risk of compromising the customer experience. McDonald’s even had to account for the significant difference in cooking time between chicken and beef, to ensure mixed orders were fresh and delicious.
Excellence in Retail & e-Commerce Marketing Strategy
McDonald’s New Zealand
How Macca’s Ruffled Feathers
DDB Aotearoa, OMD NZ, FUSE NZ, Mango NZ, Guihen Jones, TRACK NZ
“McDonalds achieved great success with this strategy to respond to a change in customer demand. Led with clear data and insights to support the opportunity they lifted the performance in a category that they weren’t dominant in, to re position themselves as a serious competitor.“
This article was originally published in the September/October 2023 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.