Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Token Gestures under Threat

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Token Gestures under Threat

Article excerpt

Newspaper-voucher campaigns are back in favour with fast-food brands, but for how long, asks Gemma Charles.

News emerged last week that fast-food brands are ploughing more adspend into press vouchers to reach consumers. As a result, newspapers are brimming with buy-one-get-one-free offers aimed at tempting those seeking a bargain breakfast or lunch.

Both of the UK's biggest fast-food chains, McDonald's and Burger King, increased spend on press advertising in 2007. Excluding the internet, press was the only medium that recorded an upswing in spend from Burger King, with TV, outdoor and radio being cut back.

The trend has continued apace in 2008. In January and February, McDonald's ran a buy-one-get-one-free promotion for its flagship Big Mac, as well as a deals offering customers a Big Mac or McChicken Sandwich with medium fries for pounds 1.99.

It is not only the burger chains that have turned toward press coupons Subway also used the device as a key marketing tool for the launch of its breakfast subs range at the end of last year.

Victims of circumstance

The rise in spend on press coincides with the introduction of tighter rules governing TV advertising of foods high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) aimed at children, which have been phased in since the beginning of last year. However, both McDonald's and Burger King deny that their increased investment in the medium has anything to do with the regulations.

A McDonald's spokeswoman points out that both the promotions it has run this year required redeemers to be 16 years old or over, and bore no relationship to its child-focused activity, which is centred exclusively on Happy Meals. 'We use vouchers because they are an effective way of bringing our great offers to a wider range of customers,' she says.

For its part, Burger King does not prevent under-16s from redeeming its vouchers. However, according to a spokeswoman for the chain, 'None of the vouchering activity is aimed at customers under the age of 16, and any customer downloading the online voucher has to confirm that they are over 16 before they are allowed access to it.'

Whatever the brands' motives, Associated Newspapers' freesheet Metro has been one of the major beneficiaries of the trend, with its young reader profile proving attractive to advertisers. While Burger King has relied exclusively on the London Metro for its breakfast promotion, McDonald's has also used other local papers, such as the Liverpool Echo, as well as national tabloids The Sun and Daily Mirror. …

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