Served on a bakery style roll with sesame seeds, it is intended to be more "gourmet" than the average McDonald's fare. To some, it is reminiscent of 1996's Arch Deluxe, which was an expensive failure.
McDonald's phased out its Supersize menu three years ago after the movie "Super Size Me" generated negative publicity and equated the term with obesity in consumers' minds. Now, it is testing the concept of a third of a pound of beef on a bun in southern California with three versions, the Angus Deluxe, Angus Mushroom & Swiss and Angus Bacon & Cheese.
The products are available at 600 restaurants in Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties. At $3.99, they are priced the same as Carl's Jr. and Hardee's half-pound burgers. CKE Restaurants owns both those chains. Burger King has had its own Angus burger for three years.
Michael Solomon, director of the Institute for Lifestyle Research and professor of marketing at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, sees the initiative as a "competitive response to Burger King, which has done well by appealing to ... blue-collar young men, who are a great example of the hallowed 80/20 rule that 20% of your customers account for 80% of your sales."
A McDonald's spokesperson says it is the company's desire to continue to provide our customers with choices. "We are hearing from customers who are still wanting burger choices," she says.
But Solomon points out that the incremental cost of a larger portion is negligible. "If you charge a lot more for the Gonzo Burger, your profit margin goes up, since most costs are derived from overhead and labor, not food."
"The Angus Third Pounders are being supported with an aggressive television, radio, outdoor and regional Web site advertising campaign, aerial banners flying high above Southern California and point-of-purchase materials found in all participating stores," says Sue Mullins, director of marketing for McDonald's Southern California Region. The product can be seen at mcdonaldsocal.com.