McDonald’s, Healthy Choice Test McDeli

Making good on its vow to freshen its list of menu items, McDonald’s is joining the “wraps” bandwagon and testing McDeli sandwiches in Detroit and Cleveland.
The three-item line–Grilled Chicken Caesar, Turkey & Swiss and Turkey Club–features ConAgra’s Healthy Choice brand of reduced fat deli meats, and that brand name is touted on in-store merchandising. The sandwiches, with tortillas wrapped around fillings, are priced from $2.99 for the Grilled Chicken Caesar to $3.49 for the Turkey Club.
The McDeli concept dates back to 1996, when Jim Kostecki, a McDonald’s franchisee in Southfield, Mich., opened a food-court operation called “Mac’s Place.” The food court had three different branded mini-concepts–a Healthy Choice Sandwich Shop, a Nestle Toll House Cafe and a Contadina Pasta Shop–in addition to a McDonald’s.
That McDonald’s unit adopted the “sandwich wrap,” and it proved popular enough to attract the attention of the chain’s regional management, Kostecki said, which in turn led to the wider test now under way.
With so few stores involved, the McDeli sandwiches have so far received no ad support, other than in-store merchandising. Frankel & Co., Chicago, handles McDonald’s in-store marketing; DDB Needham Chicago is the chain’s lead advertising agency.
A representative of Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s had no comment on the test.
Sources close to the chain said co-branding programs, such as the current test with Healthy Choice, are favored by Alan Feldman, who will take over as president of McDonald’s U.S.A. in August when Jack Greenberg moves up to chief executive officer. Feldman has said he intends to intensify testing of possible new menu items for McDonald’s.
The chain tested a similar concept in 1990, launching a line of McSubs sandwiches in selected markets. Those sandwiches included deli meats from Kraft Foods’ Oscar Mayer unit.
–with Stephanie Thompso