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Take Cover! Marketing Blitz for McCafe Is on the Way

McDonald's Massive $100 Million Coffee Launch Impossible to Escape

Whoever said mass marketing is dead never worked at McDonald's. The master of the McBlitz is about to outdo itself with its long-awaited national campaign for its new coffee line, touted as the biggest launch in its history -- no small feat for a company that regularly drenches consumers in marketing.


McCafe ad

LANGUAGE ARTS: Fast-feeder McD's puts an accent on the everyday in advertising for its big new product platform.

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While the Golden Arches won't detail how much it's spending on McCafé, the new product platform is expected to receive an outpouring of more than $100 million fanned out across TV, print, radio, outdoor, internet, events, PR and sampling beginning early this week. There's a lot riding on that budget: McCafé is expected to add about $1 billion to McDonald's bottom line in the U.S. -- about $75,000 per restaurant -- and the chain is banking on national advertising to realize that lofty financial goal.

Suffice it to say the creative will be hard to miss.

"I assure you that we're going to be surrounding the consumer with very relevant messaging," said Neil Golden, chief marketing officer, McDonald's USA. He said the initial ads "will pulse on and off very strongly through the summer, with sustained weight well into 2010." McDonald's has already started the push with coupon booklets in newspapers for McCafé, which will initially include cappuccinos, hot and iced lattes and mochas, hot and iced coffees, and hot chocolate. McDonald's will add smoothies and frappes to the line later this year and into 2010.

"This is one of the bigger drumroll moments in McDonald's marketing for some time," said UBS analyst David Palmer. He said initial trial for the products could dent rival Starbucks as much as 5% in revenue and same-store sales. But it won't all be bad for rivals, he said. The massive media weight from McDonald's could lift the entire category, since specialty coffee has never had the benefit of big bucks before.

'Tallest midget'
McDonald's spent $820 million in measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence, and Mr. Golden said McCafé's spending will be incremental, lifting the total to an amount he declined to specify.

A mass-media approach may seem counterintuitive in an age of niche marketing, but Andy Donchin, director-media investments at Carat, said huge, mainstream marketers such as McDonald's need to hit all the bases. TV is still critical for share of voice, and even with fragmentation and smaller ratings, he said, it is "the tallest midget in the room."

One TV spot from DDB, Chicago, incorporates the accent mark from McCafé. When you "McCafé your day," a commute becomes a commuté. When a pal drops by your cubicle with an iced mocha, it's a cubiclé. "There's a wit and charm to the brand, and to the products and to McDonald's," said Marlena Peleo-Lazar, chief creative officer, McDonald's USA.

McDonald's understands that it faces a quality-perception hurdle with first-time buyers, so it's focused on "making the product the hero" in TV spots with what Ms. Peleo-Lazar calls "chocolate-cake shots."

McCafe's African-American and Hispanic campaigns reflect preferences based on consumer insights. African-Americans are more interested in sweeter beverages, while Hispanics tend to be coffee and espresso experts, so they need assurance on quality.

Speaking the language
Radio spots from DDB, Chicago, teach consumers "How to speak McCafé" by using the accent mark. An online effort from digital agency Tribal DDB aimed at 18- to 34-year-olds uses actors from Chicago's Second City comedy theater.

Spokeswoman Danya Proud said the chain will examine more opportunities like its sponsorship of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, in which the chain built a McCafé lounge and served drinks to attendees. Chicago holds Free McCafé Mondays, when anyone can drop in to McD's for a free drink.

In addition, McDonald's is doing summer giveaways with Visa, including two $50,000 grand prizes for 100-word entries about why McDonald's should "McCafé your day." It is also establishing a McCafeYourDay Twitter handle run by Jessie Thompson, manager-U.S. communications. The chain sees Twitter as "a key opportunity for listening, responding and conversing with our customers about their experiences with McCafé," Ms. Proud said.

The agencies involved in the McCafé launch also include Burrell Communications for African-American advertising and PR, Alma DDB and Moroch's Inspire for Hispanic, IW Group for Asian, Arc Worldwide for in-store merchandising and gaming, OMD for media, and Golin Harris as the primary PR shop. Valencia, Pérez & Echeveste handles Hispanic PR.


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Published: May 04, 2009