Don Thompson is a man of science, an electrical engineer who once designed radar jamming systems, but recently, his biggest problem was a simple piece of cheese.
McDonaldâ€™s most popular U.S. sandwich, its $1 double cheeseburger, was barely profitable for its franchisees. And as head of McDonaldâ€™s U.S. operations, it was Mr. Thompsonâ€™s job to find a solution that wouldnâ€™t alienate cash-strapped consumers.
The answer: Raise the double cheeseburgerâ€™s price to $1.19, but also launch a new double cheeseburger, with less cheese, for $1.
The great cheeseburger compromise appears to have worked, and itâ€™s exactly the type of innovation that has kept Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonaldâ€™s Corp. on a roll, despite an ugly economy, analysts said.
Now, the 46-year-old Mr. Thompson has an even bigger challenge: Successfully completing the rollout of one of the fast-food giantâ€™s biggest â€” and riskiest â€” U.S. product launches, the McCafe specialty coffee offensive.
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