Monday, November 21, 2011

Fast Food: Going Gourmet to Change Brand Perceptions

The author is a graduate student of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) at Northwestern University’s Medill School, focusing on brand management and strategic planning.  She has experience in the QSR market working with Euro RSCG to rebrand Sonic Drive-In.

Today, Domino’s began selling three new “gourmet” varieties of its well-known cheesy bread: spinach and feta, bacon and jalapeno, and plain cheese.  In an attempt to change brand perceptions, their new campaign from CP+B will address the problem of “under-cheesing” in the pizza industry.  This product revamp comes only months after the chain’s new artisan pizza line.  In an article by Ad Age: Domino's Introduces 'Gourmet' Cheesy Bread the thought-process behind these recent changes is explained.  In my opinion, this is all part of an on-going plan to overtake the category leader, Pizza Hut.  With only 11.2% market share compared to Pizza Hut’s 18.3%, Domino’s has a long way to go.  My guess is that they are taking cues from another category 2nd, Burger King.

In August 2011, Burger King switched up its advertising and hired McGarryBowen to create a refreshed marketing image.  The new TV ad is a far cry from the campaigns created during BK’s seven-year relationship with CP&B, including the King mascot, Whopper Sacrifice, and Subservient Chicken.  Critics say that the advertisements are uninspiring but the change to close-ups of fresh avocados, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions has positively affected how customers view the chain.  Ad Age reports in Has Burger King's First McGarryBowen's Ad Helped the Brand? that Burger King’s customer perception score has gone from 24.2 before the new ad campaign, to a score of 34.3 two days after the ad aired.  This product-centric marketing approach by BK has clearly pushed the company towards an image of high-quality, made –to-order food.

However, fast-food chains aren’t the only ones trying to upgrade their products.  To see another spin on making fast-food gourmet, take a look at Erik Trinidad’s Fancy Fast Food blog.  His creations include Spicy Chicken Sushi made from Popeye’s fried chicken (below) and a Thanksribbing Dinner made from the limited-time McRib- just in time for the holidays!

Melanie Greben
M.S. Candidate, Integrated Marketing Communications
Northwestern University

Photo Credits:, Erik Trinidad-

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