Score one for McDonald's... at the expense of Starbucks and all of the other high-brow coffee shops peddling pricey lattes, cappuccino, espresso and all manner of caffeinated concoctions. Marketing message? You don't have to be a snobbish, artsy type–real or affected–to enjoy a good "cultured" brew. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get great café beverages, either. You can actually be who you are–walk into McDonald's Café and get a great cup of Joe while being an average Joe.

A recent TV ad spot caught my eye, and I have to admit, it made me chuckle. Scene: two average guys are sitting in a highly cultured cafe savoring cappuccinos. One is poring over a book. He sports an arty goatee. The other has a dark turtleneck sweater on with a properly knotted scarf. Both are wearing glasses. This is gravitas. . .
Then, one friend asks the other: "Did you hear McDonald's has cappuccinos now?"
"McDonalds?" the other repeats.
"That's awesome. I can shave this thing off my face!"
The guys now feel liberated and euphoric: they can now watch football! No more art films. The scarf and sweater come off. Even better: they can walk into a local McDonald's Café–on Mondays until 2:00 PM--and try a free McCafe coffee--a latte, cappuccino or mocha.

This is interesting marketing on a number of levels. It takes a swipe at the Starbucks type coffee shops in a clever way, without overtly denigrating their high prices, but by pointing out their snob appeal. It's tongue in cheek.
Secondly, in this time of economic squeeze, consumers are looking for value for their money. Real value. Not the perceived value that comes from being part of the pricey café scene. How about this for value? A little pampering, a real treat–café coffees free of charge on Mondays until 2:00 in the afternoon–and available at a nominal price any other time.
Thirdly, come as you are. No need for affectation. No need to be high-brow, extremely cultured or rich. These wonderful coffee beverages are to be enjoyed by everybody. These brews are for the masses. Gasp! Come and get it.
Have you tried any of McDonald's Café Coffees? If so, did you like them?
What do you think of McDonald's approach to marketing its new coffee drinks? Does it resonate with you? Why or why not?
As a consumer, are you actively looking to change brands that offer you more value for your money in this tough economy?
Do you think McDonald's will take market share away from Starbucks and other high-priced coffee shops?
I'd love to hear from you.

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image of Ted Mininni

Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni