Branding: McDonald's battles film with 'fresh' offer

HONG KONG: McDonald's has launched its 'Fresh Choices Menu', coinciding with the Hong Kong release of Super Size Me, an unflattering and widely-covered documentary that tracks a man who eats nothing but McDonald's for 30 days.

The fastfood giant aims to "let the food speak for itself" in the launch campaign developed by DDB, with media handled by OMD.

The first phase showcases products available on the new and improved menu including three kinds of flatbreads; three different salads, two new drinks as well as a dessert offering.

McDonald's has also partnered with Yahoo Hong Kong, to launch its first online campaign with three interactive games designed especially for three 'Fresh' new products.

The second phase, rolling out mid-November, comprises print, outdoor as well as store merchandising and PR events to underscore the point that McDonald's offers greater choice. Although no official campaign has been launched in Hong Kong or China (as in Australia, America and Europe) to combat Super Size Me's negative portrayal of the chain, the introduction of the new menu is seen as part of a global initiative to portray McDonald's as a healthy eating option.

"The primary benefit (of the new menu) for customers will be more choice at McDonald's," said David Morita, McDonald's Hong Kong vice-president, marketing. "The campaign is intended to clearly communicate the range of new product offerings with an emphasis on fresh ingredients."

Super Size Me producer and star, Morgan Spurlock, as well as many nutritionists, have spoken out against these supposedly healthier options, claiming that the range were actually calorie-laden and were equal to regular burgers.

According to McDonalds' own statistics the flat bread option has 11 grams more fat than a regular hamburger.

Morita said McDonald's Hong Kong had printed nutritional information on leaflets, which are available in restaurants and on tray-mats.

"We believe that our customers are smart and can separate reality from the hype of the movie," he said.

Peter Wilken, a partner of The Brand Company, described the new menu as a step in the right direction.

"We keep stressing to our clients that perceptions of their brand are driven more by what they do than what they say ... the shame is that (McDonald's) should have done this ages ago."

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