McDonald's has been struggling as more and more competitors have entered the fast-food breakfast wars. Now, it may be eyeing brunch as the new mealtime battleground.
In July, McDonald's filed for a federal trademark registration for the term "McBrunch," industry blog BurgerBusiness reported on Wednesday.
An application doesn't necessarily mean that McDonald's customers should start prepping for McMimosas just yet. A quick scroll through McDonald's trademarks reveals plenty of untouched terms, with everything from McPapas (another name for French fries) to McEgg (filed in 2012, but abandoned).
"We routinely file intent to use trademark applications as a regular course of business," says McDonald's spokesperson Lisa McComb. "We can’t share details at this time as to how the trademarks may or may not be used."
While speculation may be premature, it is clear that McDonald's is at least considering brunch – and has been for a long time. This is actually the second time McDonald's has filed to trademark "McBrunch," with a previous, abandoned application filed in 2001. Today, McDonald's is pushing its McCafe offerings, as players such as Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A and Starbucks have attempted to encroach on the breakfast market in the past year. Maybe McBrunch could give the chain a much needed boost by creating a new mealtime menu that no other fast-food chain currently offers.
Of course, a reason few chains offer a brunch menu is that the breakfast-lunch mashup is a difficult meal to balance. It spans two meals, which would be especially problematic for McDonald's, a chain that has always struggled to find a satisfactory time to transition from the breakfast to lunch menu.
And it hasn't worked for its competitors. When Burger King briefly tested a brunch menu in Massachusetts and Florida four years ago, the nonalcoholic mimosas and BK Ciabatta Breakfast Sandwich menu flopped. And, while there are plenty of brunch fans, the meal has a surprising number of very vocal haters.
How could McDonald's make McBrunch happen? BurgerBusiness suggests following the model that McDonald's already uses in Germany: extending breakfast hours beyond 10:30 a.m. on weekends and major holidays. College students struggling to make it to McDonald's to get a McMuffin on a Sunday morning could sleep in past 10:30 a.m. Meanwhile, McDonald's could treat customers on more typical meal schedules to the "lunch" half of "brunch" at mid-day.
McBrunch would likely require finding a way to utilize McDonald's grills and prep stations for both breakfast and lunch items simultaneously, something that might slow down service. However, Burger King is already serving burgers for breakfast – why not try mixing up a menu of lunch and breakfast offerings for brunch?