Phil Morley, one of Australia’s best ever red meat retailers, was the right person to bring home arguably the Angus breed’s greatest marketing triumph – the “McAngus” burgers.
The Grand Angus and Mighty Angus burgers were launched in McDonald’s fast-food restaurants in August, 2009, amid a $10 million advertising blitz.
That advertising campaign not only brought people flocking into McDonald’s outlets but also told everybody that Angus was the best quality beef.
McDonald’s had approached the Certified Australian Angus Beef company about getting Angus burgers onto its menu not long before Mr Morley was appointed its chief executive in March, 2008.
- Angus breed’s long path to success
- Angus now top of beef tree
- Michael Pointer an accidental Angus pioneer
Executives of the fast-food giant in Australia headed by Matt Toll were keen to launch Angus burgers “down under” after watching successful trials of the product in the US.
Mr Morley said McDonald’s was “paranoid” that any quality assurance program to deliver Angus patties had to be underpinned with rock-solid integrity.
Read the full Summer Angus edition here.
So CAAB set about developing a verification program that guaranteed grain-fed beef trimmings going into McDonald’s Angus burgers were from animals sired by an Angus bull out of an Angus or Angus cross female (75 to 100 per cent Angus).
Mr Morley remembers some pushback from members of the CAAB board and within the Angus Society who were worried about linking the Angus breed to a fast-food company.
Kate Brabin, who wrote the McDonald’s Angus verification program and later succeeded Mr Morley as chief executive of CAAB in 2014, said amid all the hype there was some concern the McDonald’s deal could devalue the Angus breed.
But she said the success of the program was undeniable and had raised the value of carcases because McDonald’s paid a premium for the trim.
“We were excited the (Angus) breed would be recognised in most households in Australia,” she said.
The Angus burgers were a good fit for the breed because McDonald’s made them part of its upmarket signature range, she said.
After the success with McDonald’s Mr Morley set about launching an Angus brand for high-quality pasture-fed beef free of growth promotants, antibiotics and GMOs.
Angus Pure started with 112 head which grew to 3000 head a week within two years with most of the beef going to Safeway stores in the US.
Mr Morley said Angus beef brands had proliferated during his time at CAAB and he could understand why Angus Australia had sold its brands so it could support all brands in the marketplace.