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CHICAGO -- McDonald's Corp. is introducing its newest McCafe beverage -- an espresso-based drink called the Caramel Mocha -- by launching a scavenger hunt, AdAge.com reported.
The scavenger hunt -- which starts today and will go on throughout the week -- is taking place in nine cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Haven, Conn., Salt Lake City, Tampa Bay, Fla., and Washington, D.C., according to the report.
McDonald's is hiding three giant McCafe coffee cups throughout each city and will use social-media channels -- such as @McDonalds and @McCafeyourday on Twitter -- to distribute clues on the cups' whereabouts. The first person to find a cup will be met by a McDonald's representative and receive a year's worth of free McCafe beverages. The next 100 people in each city to find a cup will get a card for a free small-sized McCafe beverage.
In addition to the @McDonalds and @McCafeyourday Twitter handles, all nine participating markets will be using their local Twitter handles and Facebook pages -- most of which were established prior to this promotion -- to communicate the clues, the report stated.
McDonald's will be working with its local public relations agencies to manage the local Twitter handles, as well as pitch local media outlets to generate buzz. But it will not be using promoted tweets or paid Facebook deals. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Golin Harris, who worked with McDonald's on the scavenger hunt, is the fast feeder's national public-relations agency.
On why the nine markets were chosen, Jessica Rau, McDonald's program manager for the campaign, said: "We looked to see who had established Twitter handles already. We also wanted to get the ones that would get the broadest reach, looking at the markets to make sure we're getting as much coverage and as much bang for our buck as we can. We're also trying to get representation across the country so we can really truly say we're trying to do this national scavenger hunt."
New Haven did not have a Twitter handle, but had a Facebook following and a strong media market, Rau noted.
This isn't the first time for McDonald's has done a scavenger hunt. "There were quite a few local markets, like Cincinnati, who have done the scavenger hunt idea, and they were extremely successful. This is something we've borrowed from our local and regional markets, and we've taken it and put it under our national umbrella," said Rau. Cincinnati was an early scavenger-hunt adopter, producing the promotion for McCafe's Smoothies and Frappes.
In other McDonald's news, the company's Chairman and CEO Jim Skinner told USA Today that business is good as customers look for value in a fragile economy. He also said even with higher expenses from health care to burgers, he doesn't expect to raise prices significantly. Below is the newspaper's full interview with Skinner:
Q: How is business? A: McDonald's is recession resistant, not recession proof. But we really have been very successful and continued to reinvest in our business over all of those years, including this current downturn. We're taking share in every area of the world. We've stuck to our game plan, which is focusing on customers and restaurants and doing a better job every day. It's paid dividends.
Q: What do customers want today? A: The first thing is the same thing they've always wanted: great-tasting food at a great value and at the speed of McDonald's. At our business, speed is very important. People are harried in their lifestyles, and everybody's on the move. Breakfast has been important to us for 35 years. We really sort of own that day part, if you will. But the rest of our menu has proliferated around choice for our customers and the everyday affordability, particularly during these times when you look at unemployment rates of 9.6 percent and consumer confidence that continues to be low. Everyday affordability and value at McDonald's is extraordinarily important.
Q: What would you say about consumers in this economic environment? A: Until people have confidence regarding the future, and for us that means confidence in being able to put meals on the table at home or buy meals away from home, consumer confidence is going to continue to be low. Yet we have been very successful in this environment because of the everyday affordability. They shouldn't get pinched at McDonald's when they're getting pinched every place else.
Q: What went on in terms of your suggestion that perhaps you would not be able to provide health insurance to hourly workers? A: It's important to be clear that we would have never dropped our health care coverage for our people, those 30,000-plus people mentioned in the news media. But it was going to be challenging for our (insurance) carrier and other carriers to cover those mini med plans that were talked about, which cover some 1.4 million employees throughout the U.S. at other companies. Without a waiver, that particular carrier may not have been able to cover our people, but we would have found someone who could. We are always going to provide the benefits and opportunity for our employees, regardless of what the administration does.
Q: We've seen a rise in commodities prices. Are you expecting to pass that on to the consumer? What are you doing to offset rising prices for ground beef, coffee, etc.? A: We have a very good relationship with our suppliers, and we worked very hard to lock in prices for 2011 around a number of items. We do it so that we can lock in a reasonable food and paper cost for our franchisees. Over the last couple of years here in the U.S., our price increases have averaged somewhere around 1 percent to 1.5 percent. And if we were at 1.5 percent in 2011, or 2 percent, depending on what's going on with inflation, that would probably be business as usual for us.
Q: Have people traded down in this recession? A: I always like to say that people are not trading down, they're trading in because we did better before the recession. I don't know when it started exactly, but we're in our seventh year of same-store sales growth. So our business model was very successful. We had everyday affordability then, and we continue to have everyday affordability.
Q: With states squeezed in terms of their budgets and looking for revenue, are you worried about a fat tax? A: I pay attention to legislative activity around revenue generation because I think people are needy and greedy, and they want to put the onus on somebody. It could be an issue. I don't worry about it. I think people will have common sense and realize that you can't take one part of the food chain and put an onerous taxation on them because you're trying to legislate people's behavior in the interest of raising revenue. It's wrong-headed. Even our legislators will have enough common sense to figure out that's not the way to go.
Q: Everyone's focused on obesity. Can McDonald's be part of the solution? A: I like to say that we've been part of the solution. We've done more around our menu choice and variety for our consumers. It fits into their balanced, active lifestyle, so yes. We have a responsibility to be part of the solution. We sell food.
Q: What did you do? A: Take a look at the choice on the Happy Meals for kids: apples and the opportunity for them to have 1 percent milk. Look at salads, grilled chicken, entrees across the menu that provide a very nutritionally balanced meal. You get it done through choice, not through prescribing behavior or convincing somebody that they should eat a Big Mac, large fry and a Coca-Cola every day. We also work very closely with the health organizations and others, including the first lady and Let's Move. We're also the leader in nutritional information. It's not my job to get up in the morning and prescribe to people what they eat, but I should give them a choice that makes them feel good about their decision and, more importantly, fits into the appropriate nutritional guidelines for them.