Cabaero: Burgers ‘war’

Nini Cabaero

IT STARTED with a simple announcement, albeit unclear as to timeframe and cause, but it is now reigniting the competition between hamburger brands.

Jollibee has been known to be the Philippine answer to McDonald’s and it has succeeded in overtaking the American brand in terms of sales because it had adjusted products to the Filipino taste.

But when Jollibee Foods Corp. posted Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, an announcement that said it will stop the production of Champ, McDonald’s took action and boldly proclaimed its Big Mac is “here to stay.”

“We wish to inform you that soon, we will be phasing out our Champ burger in all Jollibee branches. We are working on big and exciting things this year for our burgers line to delight and bring greater joy to our customers,” Jollibee Foods Corp. said in a statement.

The Jollibee statement offered customers its other burger products saying, “Our customers can enjoy the same langhap-sarap beefy goodness by trying our double patty Yumburgers—regular, cheesy and cheesy deluxe variants. These are extra filling, juicy, delicious and great value for money.”

Yet, Jollibee also said, “Our product offerings are being reviewed regularly to meet customer demands so there’s always a chance that old Jollibee classics—including the Champ—may return in the future.” If consumers want it back, the food chain could bring back the classics.

The reaction to the announcement was immediate. Social media comments criticized the Jollibee decision saying it was wrong to deprive them of their favorite and its decision was an admission that it has lost to the competition.

The competition, McDonald’s, saw the statement and the online reaction and responded with its own social media advertisement stating: “A true classic never fades out. Get a Big Mac now at McDonald’s.” Below it is the text “Here to stay,” and a photo of a juicy, filling Big Mac.

The reaction was equally immediate from Big Mac fans and others who warned McDonald’s not to be proud as they also complained that the Big Mac was small, not big at all, and tastes dry and bland.

The “war,” at least on social media, between the two big hamburger brands also gave smaller players an occasion to benefit from the intense interaction. There were posts that promoted instead Angel’s Burger as an alternative to both Jollibee and McDonald’s.

Jollibee should have expected its competitor to take action. The Jollibee post also had shortcomings such as not defining what “soon” meant when it said it will phase out Champ “soon.” What’s the timeframe? What’s the reason behind it?

If it wanted to replace Champ, it should have been ready to reveal what “big and exciting things” they have for their burgers line. Then, it said, the Champ could still return. That is confusing.

It is interesting to find out how this would develop but what is clear is that consumers are getting their opinions out and are ending up the winner in this battle.