American fast food battle heats up once again

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on May 23, 2003

American fast food battle heats up once again

As the fast food giants heat up the battle for consumers' taste buds, McDonald's is adding card-swipe payment technology from Hypercom and American Express to selected New York drive-throughs, while teaming up with AOL Latin America for in-restaurant internet access in Brazil. Meanwhile, Burger King is running a series of big promotions with both AOL and Warner Music in Latin America.

McDonald's aims to make the drive-through diner's experience as easy as possible in North Babylon, New York, as it installs outside order board card-swipe payment technology from American Express and Hypercom Corporation. This reduces the stops needed by one window, and removes the need to have cash in the car.

The drive-through payment system incorporates Hypercom's HFT 500 and ICE 5500 high-speed card payment terminals, both of which use the company's HyperSafe operating system's security features. American Express ensures that each transaction is completed in the fastest possible time.

Preliminary results from earlier pilots of the technology suggest that customers are quick to use the technology, and are generally pleased with the added speed, ease of use and convenience. The same results also suggest that customers are willing to spend more money per transaction when they are given the option of using their credit card.

The outside payment terminal connects directly to the in-store cash register system which, in this case, is Hypercom's ICE 5500 system. Payment transaction details can be either handled by the in-store system or transmitted directly to American Express for fast authorisation.

Burger King promotions Meanwhile, in Latin America, Burger King continues to run high-profile promotions to gain market share, in conjunction with both AOL Latin America and Warner Music Mexico.

Burger King will be working with AOL Mexico and Warner Music Mexico through a new agreement which calls for the creation of an AOL Burger King loyalty programme, through which Burger King's customers can register to win prizes through the AOL Mexico internet portal.

The main prize for the new loyalty programme will be a trip for two to Spain to attend a concert with the popular Spanish band "Hombres G", and to visit the band backstage. Other prizes include: having a private dinner with band members, and personally autographed CD albums.

The promotion is to be supported by a coordinated joint marketing and cross-media campaign, including television, radio, internet, and restaurant point-of-sale advertising.

As the first of a series of promotions to run over a six-month period, this initial campaign will run for six weeks, during which internet users will be able to register through the AOL Mexico portal, or through specially designed software CDs distributed in participating Burger King restaurants throughout Mexico.

AOL Mexico has already created an AOL-Burger King area in its portal, containing information about the promotion and other relevant topics. During the first month of the promotion, on-site promoters will be present in several key restaurants to demonstrate the features available through the Burger King loyalty programme section of the portal, and to promote the registration of new AOL Mexico members.

Eduardo Escalante, President of AOL Mexico, commented: "Adding Burger King to our list of marketing partners is complementary to our member acquisition efforts." The joint programme with Burger King is part of AOL Latin America's ongoing effort to bring new content and entertainment opportunities to its members.

Surfing and snacking Following a number of pilot tests in McDonald's restaurants in North America, AOL Brazil has also recently announced a joint marketing agreement with McDonald's Brazil, through which the Latin American internet service provider (ISP) will provide internet access within the company's restaurants in the region.

Two years ago, Burger King Hungary launched a similar initiative in conjunction with the global ISP, But Burger King believes that McDonald's move into the surf-while-you-eat territory is a compliment, adding that the bigger ISPs are beginning to see that the future lies in developing customised products and services for specific consumer and business segments - such as internet access in fast food restaurants.

Launched in Hungary in June 2001, and Burger King's service provides customers with twenty minutes of broadband internet access on 48 branded terminals throughout 15 participating restaurants in Hungary. Those restaurants now sell over 10,000 prepaid coupons for additional access time per month.

For additional information: ·  Visit McDonald's at ·  Visit Burger King at ·  Visit Hypercom at ·  Visit American Express at ·  Visit AOL Latin America at ·  Visit Global at