McDonald's is testing one of its most expensive flops.
Business Insider confirmed that McDonald's recently began testing the Archburger at seven Oklahoma and Texas locations. Archburgers are a reboot of the burger chain's Arch Deluxe, which first debuted in 1996 as a more sophisticated sandwich, served with a mustard-mayo sauce ("Arch Sauce"). It flopped hard. An estimated $150 million was shelled out for the grand rollout of Arch Deluxe -- the most expensive promotional campaign in fast-food history, as reported by The New York Times. But the pricier, "grown-up" burger was soon discontinued in the late '90s when it failed to appeal to its targeted customer base.
Now, McDonald's is attempting to raise the bar again by appealing to foodies and gourmet-minded customers with a fresh beef burger, not imaginatively renamed "Archburger." The Arch Deluxe and Archburger are not much different -- fresh beef, cheese, pickles, onions, and Arch sauce. The biggest change to the burger, however, is a cheaper price point than that of its other popular burgers like the Big Mac, which costs about $4, compared to Archburger's $2.19 starting price, before adding toppings.
Fresh beef is a drastic change for the fast-food company, which has relied on beef patties for years. However, over the years, McDonald's Corp. shifted its positioning to appeal to increasingly health-conscious Americans. In August 2016, the chain removed artificial preservatives from its iconic Chicken McNuggets and swapped out its burger buns, which contained high fructose corn syrup. And in December 2017, McDonald's announced its first-ever vegan hamburger, the McVegan, as a permanent menu item in Sweden.
Fast-food competitors Wendy's, Burger King and Shake Shack have focused on serving healthier menu items for their customers. Shake Shack is testing a grilled chicken sandwich served on a whole wheat bun, while both Wendy's and Burger King pledged to no longer use antibiotics in their chicken.
Across the board, fast-food competitors are quickly making moves in the new year to grab the biggest market share from rivals by proposing cheap value menus (McDonald's relaunched the chain's popular Dollar Menu at the beginning of 2018) and healthier food choices.