McDonald’s Spent $48 Million to Push Bacon in February

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“McDonald’s led all companies in advertising dollars spent at $48 million, less than what the chain allocated in January. Taco Bell (second on the list) cut its TV advertising funding by nearly half, likely due to Grubhub picking up most of the tab for its joint commercial with the chain touting limited time free delivery. Grubhub reportedly spent just under $7 million in ad dollars in February.

The biggest surprise of the month was Arby’s, which catapulted up 26 spots from January to crack the top 10 in advertising dollars spent. The quick service restaurant has completed a large sales turnaround in recent years by relying more on promotions and new deli meats to entice customers, according to Forbes. The chain’s success also led its parent company to acquire both Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic in 2018.

Overall, quick service restaurants and pizza chains dominated TV advertising again in February, with Yum Brands’ subsidiaries — Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC — in the top 10 for the fourth consecutive month.  Olive Garden and Applebee’s, the casual restaurants that cracked the top 10 in January, ended February at 11 and 14, respectively, after shelling out more than $10 million each.”

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Taco Bell and Chipotle Want to Shave Time off Food Deliveries

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“When it comes to restaurant delivery, speed matters. And the burrito chains want to be faster.

Taco Bell –– which now offers delivery at roughly two-thirds of its U.S. restaurants through GrubHub Inc. with plans to continue expanding the service –– says its average delivery time is 34 minutes. The company acknowledges that’s not good enough for today’s demanding customer.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., meanwhile, says it’s averaging between 28 and 32 minutes for delivery, but it thinks it can shave four minutes or so as it expands pickup shelves across the nation. It’s also introducing prepaid delivery so drivers don’t have to pay in stores. It’s all part of a digital push that is a key part of the comeback plan laid out under Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol in his first year on the job.”

“While restaurant delivery has long been part of the culture in major cities like New York and San Francisco, pizza was often the only option in many markets. That has started to change as on-demand delivery services like DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats have proliferated, joining GrubHub to expand delivery options.”

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Chipotle skips sponsorship of college bowl games, offers free delivery instead

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In honor of college football season, Chipotle Mexican Grill is offering free delivery now through Jan. 7 on any Chipotle order worth $10 or more.

“Given the iconic nature of Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl, many consumers have pointed out that we should sponsor a bowl game,” Chipotle CMO Chris Brandt, said in a company press release. “We listened and decided to do something about it. But, rather than spending millions on a traditional game sponsorship, we decided to give that money back to our fans in the form of free delivery.”

With the help of expanded delivery partnerships and the ability to offer delivery directly within Chipotle’s mobile app and website, the company has seen steady growth in digital orders. Last quarter, digital sales grew 48 percent, with digital orders accounting for 11.2 percent of sales, according to the release.

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New on the Menu: Jack in the Box’s Late-Night Proposition

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“Jack in the Box is expanding its “french fries in a box” concept to two more potato, fat, and dairy concoctions that would make any cardiologist squirm. In the company’s defense, they’re going to try just about anything to keep their franchisees happy right now. Also in Jack’s defense? It doesn’t have the meal in this installment that must worry doctors the most.

Every few weeks Skift Table will wrap up the latest seasonal and new items on chain restaurant menus in the United States. We don’t call out everything (sorry limited-time Pumpkin Spice something), but we will call out items that are notable for what they mean to a chain, the season, or consumer habits.”

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Fast Food Prices Rise to Better Reflect True Costs

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“Dollar cheeseburgers and discount nuggets are getting Americans in the door at their favorite fast-food joints, but the savings end there.

Even as the recent fast-food discount wars rage on, with Burger King advertising 10 chicken nuggets for $1 and Pizza Hut offering $5 pies, fast-food items that don’t make it onto value menus are actually climbing in price. Median fast-food hamburger prices have jumped 54 percent over the last decade to about $6.95, according to menu researcher Datassential. Chicken sandwiches are up 27 percent. Both surpass overall U.S. price inflation during that same time.”

“McDonald’s Corp., the world’s biggest restaurant chain, recently started touting a $6 meal including a burger, fries, a drink and a pie, but it’s also offering plenty of items at the other end of the price scale. Its honey-barbecue glazed chicken tenders are more than $6 without any drinks or sides, and the new Bacon Smokehouse Quarter Pounder meal runs nearly $9 in Chicago.”

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Oxalis Is a Neo-Bistro With Fine Dining Credentials

“(…) Over the course of a couple years, Oxalis popped up over 30 times around New York. Dinners sold out, and Russell’s precise, ambitious cooking clearly hit the right note with dishes like sasso chicken with rainbow chard and a caramelized mousse whey. To see another middle-tier but ambitious restaurant open is an exciting thing, too, when it can feel like almost everything opening these days is either a hyperexpensive, high-end tasting-menu spot or a fast-casual venture tailored for replication. “New York is a great city for a few different things, there’s a ton of high-end and a ton of low-end. It’s hard because what defines the middle?” Russell asks.”

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Chipotle Is Tired of Being Behind on Digital Strategy

“Chipotle’s new CEO Brain Niccol pulled no punches when he sat down for his first earnings call in April and candidly described Chipotle as an invisible brand. “This brand needs to be leading culture, not reacting to it,” Niccol said at the time.

In day-to-day operations, that’s led to a significant shift in the way that the company thinks about growth. Niccol said that he encourages more of a “test-and-see approach” on new initiatives under his watch, and in practice, the team has been freed up to move much more quickly on making decisions and testing new innovations. Niccol himself practices what he preaches — three months after he officially started as CEO, Niccol announced that Chipotle would be relocating its headquarters from Denver to southern California and closing down the New York City office.”

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