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May 26, 2005

Salad Days

Karyn McCormack

Though it hasn't resorted to putting a person as famous as Paris Hilton in a skimpy bathing suit, McDonald's is pulling all the stops to push its new Fruit & Walnut Salad. The mecca of fatty burgers and fries launched the salad on May 4 with a special event with music stars Destiny's Child and is advertising it like crazy.

And check out this special: From May 9 to May 28, its New York tri-state area restaurants are offering a free one-week pass to any of the 95 New York Sports Clubs (NYSC) in the region. And New York Sports Clubs are giving $1 off coupons for a Fruit & Walnut Salad and a drink. Says McDonald's press release: "The best part ... during the three-week period, customers can receive up to three free passes (with the purchase of a salad) with which to work out -- just in time for bathing suit season!"

It's strange that Mickey D's is attempting to get us ready for "bathing suit season." Will I actually look better in a bathing suit if I eat the Fruit & Walnut Salad and work out for three weeks? Will I return to my flabby old self when the free workouts end?

I couldn't resist this marketing ploy. My first stop was the nearby New York Sports Club to find the coupon. "It's a great marriage: fitness and McDonald's," jokes a NYSC manager. "Get fat, come work out." He says no one has come looking for the McDonald's coupon at his location, except for me, and nobody has cashed in their free week at the gym.

With coupon in hand, I went to McDonald's. The Fruit & Walnut Salad plus a Dasani bottled water minus the $1 coupon cost $4.30 (including tax). The salad is sliced apples and grapes with yogurt topping or dip on the side. The sweetened walnuts were hidden in a bag with a fork.

Well, at least I'll get a free week at the NYSC, which runs $89 to $95 a month depending on the contract you sign. As Paris Hilton has shown, bathing suit season is well underway.

01:45 PM

Frugal Shopper

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I'm not much of a fast food person, but I have to give McDonalds credit for at least attempting to offer healthier fare at their restaurants. Having said that, I'd much prefer to watch the Hilton ad than sweat it out at the NY Sports Club. I'm loving it.

Posted by: David at May 27, 2005 09:22 AM

Yay Karyn!

Posted by: Rich R. at May 27, 2005 05:34 PM

I'm delighted to report that you can get the free 1-week NY Sports Club pass without stuffing your face with fries. Just go to their web site (http://www.mysportsclubs.com/trialmembership/trialmembership.asp) and fill out the form for a coupon.

Posted by: Hal Freedman at June 2, 2005 01:52 PM

This marketing tactic does seem to suggest a disconnect. Maybe it's just me but my Pavlovian response when I think of McDonald's is not even close to a fruity, nutty salad. Just sitting here thinking about it I can almost taste the salt of the fries and the grease of the burger. (I think I just gained a pound!)

All those years of branding are difficult if not impossible to change. They'll have to sell a lot of salads to pay for that rebranding.

Posted by: Kevin Stirtz at June 14, 2005 10:54 PM

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