This advert has been bugging me for a while. As every good caffeine addict knows, espresso is a method of brewing a coffee, rather than anything to do with the type of coffee being used (check it out on Wikipedia or even better, The Oatmeal if you don’t believe me!).
Therefore this McDonald’s press advert doesn’t say an awful lot about the coffee, it’s a bit like saying “our sandwiches are made with handcut bread” or “our burgers arrived in a truck”. I appreciate the process of making something can affect the taste, but in this case it doesn’t say anything about the uniqueness of the coffee.
In this day and age, when every high street has three or four chain coffee shops and (hopefully) a couple of independents, it’s really important to stand out from the crowd.
Coffee is big business. The mark-up on a cup can easily be 2,000% or more, so it makes sense for any restaurant, even a chain as big as McDonald’s to be pushing premium coffee.
In 2010, McDonald’s was reported to be the biggest seller of coffee in the UK. But to maintain that position it needs to attract new audiences, pull people away from competitors. These ads don’t do that job effectively. The DRIP framework provides a good structure for creating effective adverts for this purpose:
The key points here are differentiate and persuade.
First, McDonald’s need to differentiate its coffee from the competition. Why should a Starbucks/Costa/Nero fan defect for a competitor? We can look to the 7Ps (Price, Product, People, Place, Promotion, Process and Physical Evidence) for some clues – they’re not all relevant, but price, product and promotion are certainly up there. Arguably, this ad is about the product, but it’s not enough. Anyone can get hold of an espresso machine, it still takes skill and good quality beans to make a good coffee. Some testimonials would be good (imagine if McDonald’s could claim “eight out of ten people preferred our coffee to Starbucks'”?).
Persuading people to switch can be even more straight forward. A good price point could be enough for people to try an alternative. Temporary promotions might work, but are more likely to get existing customers to upgrade and include a coffee in their order. McDonald’s uses Rainforest Alliance beans, (certified as from sustainable farms). This might appeal to more conscientious customers to make the change (Although concerns about the Rainforest Alliance might actually put the concerted ethical shopper off).
It might be argued that this is a small advert, there to create brand salience (a back of the mind understanding that one can buy a decent coffee from McDonald’s) as much as direct sales, but if advertising isn’t working as hard as it could be, it’s wasting money.
This ad smacks of not being thought through properly, either that or the coffee just isn’t that good. Either way it’s not persuading me to make change my habit.