McDonald’s is using familiar American marketing tactics to introduce a very American new menu item in Hong Kong.
The product is a “Pulled Chicken Burger”: shredded chicken meat mixed with tandoori sauce, green and red cabbage and carrot, topped with a deep-fried onion ring and served on a bakery-style bun. Pulled chicken being an unfamiliar sandwich, McDonald’s and local ad agency DDB Group used two marketing stratagems that have served McDonald’s well elsewhere.
One is to employ a well-known chef to promote the item. In this case, the chef is Gabriel Choy, whom Marketing magazine says trained under Gordon Ramsay in the UK as the prize for winning a culinary competition. In Europe, McDonald’s frequently has invited prominent local chefs to create burger specials. Currently in Sweden, McDonald’s is touting three burgers created by renowned Chef/restaurateur Johan Jureskog. The Jureskog New York burger is available until May 2, after which the Jureskog Texas and Jureskog Signature burgers will be limited-time offers.
The second tactic is to invite people to a blind tasting of a new chicken sandwich and then see their surprise when they learn the sandwich is from McDonald’s. The chain used this approach in September 2015 to introduce Buttermilk Crispy Chicken in the U.S. as well as with the McMór burger in Ireland.
In the Hong Kong commercial, young people are invited into a food truck curiously labeled “A Burger Without Patty.” Chef Choy sells the sandwich and then serves it. They try it; they love it; Chef Choy spills the beans about its McDonald’s origins; everyone is amazed and laughs. That’s the playbook for this tactic and it works well here.
It works because in so many markets, low perceptions of McDonald’s food keep some young people away. But the chain believes that if you can just get them to try the “new” McDonald’s…
Also working with a local chef is Shack Shack’s Washington, D.C., operation. It partnered with Chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto restaurant, who transformed the Chicken Shack sandwich into an Asian fusion creation.
The Crispy Peking Chicken is Shake Shack’s crispy chicken breast combined with Maketto-style hoisin sauce, and pickle, cucumber and scallion slices, served on a potato roll. Priced at $6.49, the Crispy Peking Chicken is being sold at five D.C.-area Shake Shacks until April 24.