Corporate Eye

McDonald’s Unleashes McCafe Marketing Blitzkrieg – Will It Work?

According to an article on, McDonald’s has launched its biggest marketing push in history for the new McCafe coffee products.  I just received a direct mail piece on Wednesday for McCafe, but I swiftly threw it in the trash.  Why?  Because my local McDonald’s can’t even get their standard products and service correct, so McCafe has no hope in my mind.  But I digress.  Back to branding …

With the onslaught of McCafe marketing, I thought it would be interesting to see how McCafe is doing in Google Trends, which tracks the most searched for terms online, in comparison to its top competitors.  I got the idea after reading a post on the Official Google Blog about the accuracy of Google Trends in determining past winners of American Idol in the United States (hint – if the Google Trends success continues, put your money on Adam Lambert).

Let’s take a look at the search trends of McCafe vs. Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts over the past year.


Now, let’s take a look at the search trends of McCafe vs. Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts over the past 30 days since the marketing push began.


If Google Trends is right again, I don’t think Starbucks has anything to be worried about from McCafe, but did anyone really think there was cause for concern in the Starbucks camp?

Honestly, I think McDonald’s biggest problem with McCafe is brand positioning.  Your thoughts?

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

I strongly second your comment about diversifying when their core competency is suffering. A few months ago I took the kids our local McDonalds and end-to-end it was a mess. It took them 10 minutes to take my order and I was the 3rd person in line, plus there were about 5 employees behind the counter just ambling about talking amongst themselves and the two customers (employees who had just gotten off shift apparently) who were in front of me.

The tables were all dirty and I had to clean them myself; no big deal, but when I tried to throw away the sanitizing wipe I used on the table, I discovered the garbage cans were filled to overflowing with some trash having fallen onto the floor. I was so annoyed that I called the customer service line and gave a full report of the debacle. While I wasn’t expecting any response or recompense, the two coupons for a free dollar-menu item didn’t soothe me. If my kids didn’t like the Happy Meal prizes, I doubt we would ever go there. I can only hope they grow out of their liking for this.

Last thing, regarding the McCafe marketing push and the trending charts: “They’ve flatlined! We need the crash cart in here stat!”

I tried a Mc Cafe Mocha today for the first time, I think Starbux is in big trouble. The mocha I had was almost as good, I would say 90% as good as a Starbucks Mocha, at just over half the price. Also, the Mc Donalds store I was at was very nice, clean , and the employee told me the Mc Cafe products have been selling like hot cakes. If you have SBUX stock, i would advise getting rid of it.

Nathaniel Sarsen

I was reluctant to go in, but finally did. Got the iced mocha. Its good, a more smooth taste than starbucks. But the restaurant was a MESS ! I agree, fix ur store first then serve me fancy coffee…… But it was good !

well i think that the McCafe is going to be a succes, not a big one but it will get some marketshare from starbucks. Why> it’s something new. Just like the new mobiles, you know it is rubbish but the public always wants to follow the new trends and that kinda things.

I agree with Nathaniel Sarsen(first fix your store) but if we look at the google trends, you see that McCafe had grown a Little bit in 30 days but what do you think the trend will be if its 6 months to a year?

I think that it will grow a lot because of the push marketing!

(ps. sorry if you read some english faults in my text, i’m from the Netherlands and my english writing is not the best)

Since McDonalds have revamped their look and diversified with the Mc Cafe, I have been wondering where this is gonna head.
I myself am not a McDonalds fan and it was always my firm belief that one of it’s strengths lay in targeting children (hence parents who have to follow) through strong agreements with Disney, etc for attractive toys.
However it seems that McDonalds is changing strategy and positioning which is set for them to loose this strong market – this is just my view and I would like to hear what the others have to say.

McDonald’s serving mochas? Now I’ve seen everything…

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