OAK BROOK, ILL. — The McDonald’s Corp. believes it is sufficiently staffed and trained to accommodate a successful roll-out of its newest product, Mighty Wings.
The bone-in chicken wing product was launched nationally for a limited time starting Sept. 9. It comes in two varieties, a “drummette” or a “wingette,” that is lightly breaded and seasoned with cayenne or chili pepper for a spicy kick. Mighty Wings are sold in 3, 5, and 10 pieces starting at $2.99.
In a presentation at the Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference held Sept. 11 in New York, Tim Fenton, chief operating officer of McDonald’s, said the restaurant chain has taken steps to give Mighty Wings the best chance to succeed.
“It performed quite well in Atlanta and Chicago (during the fall of 2012), and it took us almost a year to develop the supply chain and inventory to take it nationally,” Mr. Fenton said. “Our partners to the north in Canada would love to have been on this program with us and leverage the media spend that we are going to have — we just didn’t have the supply chain.”
The uncertainty of the supply chain is the main reason why McDonald’s has slated the Mighty Wings promotion to run only for about the next six to eight weeks. Mr. Fenton said McDonald’s is not shutting off the possibility of doing more with the platform.
“If it’s as successful as we anticipate it will be, then we will work very diligently on getting more chickens,” he said. “But you do have to start at times well in advance.”
As the first unique product platform to be introduced at McDonald’s in a while, Mr. Fenton was asked whether the new wing products will add any complexities for the restaurant chain. He said there is a longer cook time on the wings, but McDonald’s has ample cabinets for storage.
“We’ve been working on this for a year,” he said. “We’ve gone through all our staffing positioning, hiring guys, training guys.”
Mr. Fenton was coy in discussing how McDonald’s plans to promote the chicken wings, but he did say a tie-in with the National Football League will begin Sept. 17.
“We’ve got a very, very clever tie-in with three of the N.F.L.’s star athletes — a little bit of a game,” he said. “I can’t talk about it. It’s kind of a mystery.”
While the Mighty Wings promotion will extend at least through the fall, Mr. Fenton said McDonald’s already is prepping for several other new product launches in 2014. Customization will be an area of focus, he said.
“We are looking at different ethnic flavors that we can add to our products, different sauces, different ingredients that we will be able to put on our burgers,” he said. “We have invested in our prep line to have the capacity to do such, but you will see some of that coming out next year.”