According to a memo obtained by Ad Age from McDonald’s Operators National Advertising Fund, the chain’s national-franchise council, the McRib marketing window was originally scheduled for Oct. 22 through Nov. 11. But “after looking at ways to strengthen the fourth-quarter 2012 OPNAD calendar,” McDonald’s made the decision to move the sandwich promotion to the latter half of December, the memo said. McRib will get TV, radio, digital, in-store, social media and PR support.
McDonald’s is holding out the star performer in hopes the product will drive sales to meet those of December 2011, which were up a whopping 9.8%. That’s a tough comp, but McDonald’s won’t be alone in trying to beat it. Fourth-quarter 2011 and first quarter 2012 marked one of the mildest winters in years, which had a hugely positive impact on restaurant sales generally. “The winter is seasonally a slower period,” said Howard Penney, restaurant analyst and managing director at Hedgeye Risk Management. “A lot of people underestimated the massive impact the weather had on sales.”