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McDonald's in Australia create entrées through social media

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(Read caption) Customers sit at a McDonald's restaurant in Hong Kong, July 25, 2014. McDonald's in Australia will introduce two entrées that were created by customers via social media later this month.

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In Australia—one of four “priority markets” where its sales have been down over the past year—McDonald’s this month will introduce two new entrées created by popular demand via social media.

New third-pound McMate Angus Beef and McMate Crispy Chicken sandwich—which McDonald’s will introduce in Australia on August 20—are built with ingredients consumers voted their favorites during a “Build Our Next Burger” poll on Facebook. A separate “Name Our Next Burger” vote on Facebook provided the McMate moniker.

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The sandwiches’ marketing slogan, “A burger by the people,” plays on the crowdsourcing behind them. But unlike the more-creative “My Burger” promotion McDonald’s has run in several European countries—where consumers suggest new burgers and the winner gets on the menu as an LTO—has an air of exasperation rather than inventiveness. In the wake of continuing soft sales in Australia, it’s as though McDonald’s is saying, “We give up. Just tell us what you’d buy.”

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So, what ingredients did consumers request? The McMate Angus burger is a third-pound beef patty with grilled onions, one bacon strip, one slice of standard cheese, one tomato slice, diced lettuce, garlic mayo and Southern BBQ sauce. The McMate Crispy Chicken construction is the same save for swapping in a crispy chicken patty (or, on request, grilled chicken). The promotion is set to end about September 9.

Given the McMate Angus’ third-pound patty, I’d guess it will be priced at the higher end of the menu spectrum, around the AUS $5.95 price for the Angus Mac McDonald’s introduced last summer. That would mean two successive high-end burger marketing campaigns since the current feature is the McFeast burger, introduced at AUS $5.85.

That seems contrary to McDonald’s Corp. CEO Don Thompson’s remarks during the July 22 Q2 earnings call. Said Thompson, “In Australia, affordability remains key to driving traffic with consumer confidence at the lowest levels since 2008.” McDonald’s is relaunching its Loose Change value menu in Australia, he said. But clearly the marketing focus at the end of August will be on the high-end McMate sandwiches. Perhaps they will be just what consumers want.