Back in September AHT reader Josh Atkins emailed us this photo of a sign advertising an In-N-Out clone coming soon to Shanghai. Today he followed up with more info about the clone, CaliBurger, and In-N-Out's action against it, including a pop-up tasting event. Check out the slideshow for more photos.
You may recall I gave you a heads up about a fake In-N-Out opening in Shanghai. Turns out it is going to be called Cali Burger and is a 100% rip off. They are currently in court with In-N-Out ahead of their potential opening this month.
It looks like In-N-Out decided to do something to counter balance the Cali Burger threat, by having a completely non-promoted one off pop-up show in Shanghai today. They flew in chefs and ingredients from California and did no marketing with ex-pat press in an effort to gauge local interest. The result was a small crowd, but tasty burgers.
Double-Double: ¥25 ($3.90) Cheeseburger: ¥19 ($2.99) Hamburger: ¥17 ($2.67) Potato chips: ¥5 ($0.79) Medium drink: ¥5 ($0.79) T-shirt: ¥30 ($4.70)
It's hard to believe In-N-Out would ever open in China when they don't even seem to have plans to open on the East Coast, but considering how protective they are of their brand, a one-off tasting in response to a copycat's presence in China's largest city (population: 23 million) may not be that far out.
In the forum Shanghai Expat, the venue that hosted the tasting, Sasha's, said the tasting was a private "soft market research" event:
Sasha's leased out its garden to a predominant PR company strictly for invited guests, local and western media and the such like for the purposes of In n Out to "soft market research" the In N Out brand. KJ from Bubba's was here and as he stated he spoke to the American guys from In n Out that were running the event. This event was a private function and Sasha`s only involvement was the leasing of our garden for the 4 hours. The event was a success and everyone was happy especially the guys from In N Out. Whether they come to China is a totally different story and as we stated above it was a private "soft market research" event to guage reaction and get feedback.
CaliBurger acknowledges its In-N-Out connection on its "About" page, saying that it holds the trademark to many of In-N-Out's trademarked names outside of the US, while In-N-Out holds them in the US:
CaliBurger is launching its first restaurant in Shanghai, China in Fall 2011. CaliBurger owns trademark applications and registered trademarks on its signature products "Double Double," "Animal Style," and "Protein Style" in its target markets: China, Korea, Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Ukraine, and Vietnam. There are ongoing legal proceedings in US Federal District Court to resolve a dispute with In-N-Out Burger, which owns the same trademarks in the United States.
Something that CaliBurger doesn't copy, though, are In-N-Out's prices. Caliburger's prices are considerably higher (although not astronomic; In-N-Out is super cheap). Some example prices:
Hamburger: ¥28 ($4.40) Cheeseburger: ¥33 ($5.19) Double Double: ¥48 ($7.54)
When/if CaliBurger opens, Josh will be back with a report.