Why McDonald's Arch Deluxe Was More Expensive Than Other Burgers

In 1996, McDonald's set out to solve a perceived problem. Namely that its menu lacked a serious adult option. So, McDonald's created the Arch Deluxe, which CBS describes as consisting of "a quarter pound of beef, bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, onions, ketchup, and a 'secret' sauce, all on a split-top sesame seed bun." To promote it, McDonald's engaged in a $150 million advertising campaign. This, as The New York Times reported, marked the most expensive fast food campaign to date. Across the country, television screens depicted scenes in which children pushed away their McDonald's burger in disgust. The burgers were, apparently, too sophisticated for children.

Unfortunately, adults didn't take to them either. Marketing91 points to the key failure in regards to McDonald's, which can be summed up as McDonald's failing to understand its brand. People don't frequent McDonald's for sophistication; they go for the Big Mac. Adults who crave sophistication wouldn't go to McDonald's even if its new burger was "sophisticated." In other words, the perceived part of "perceived problem" plays heavily. A few years later, McDonald's stopped bothering with the project.

McDonald's Arch Deluxe 2 did even worse

For 18 years, it was assumed that McDonald's had learned its lesson. Then, on Jan. 3, 2018, Business Insider announced McDonald's confirmation of rumors that it was going to give it another go in a handful of its Oklahoman and Texan restaurants. The Archburger, a concoction of fresh beef patty, cheese, pickles, onions, and sauce, would resemble the Arch Deluxe, except this time it would be cheaper, costing $2.19, as opposed to the Big Mac's $4. "We are continuing to raise the bar for our customers with new menu items and ways to experience our brand," Becca Hary, a McDonald's representative, explained.

It seems that McDonald's had not lost hope in conquering the fabled "sophisticated adult" demographic that they craved for so. At the time, it seemed that they might succeed, as Business Insider informed readers that the price of $2.19 differs the Archburger from the Arch Deluxe, which at its release cost about the same if not more as the burgers the customers generally preferred anyway.

However, a quick glance at McDonald's menu will tell you that the initiative failed, again. It may be due to people preferring the burgers McDonald's already made. Burger Lad, a burger news site, sent a reviewer 200 miles to taste the return of the mythical burger. The verdict: "I love the gimmick of re-inventing the Arch Deluxe, but the taste is a 5 out of 10." McDonald's will continue to play new items, but perhaps it'll learn where its strengths lay.