A Cup Of Smack Talk

In Seattle, right near Starbucks’ headquarters, McDonald’s makes it very plain how they feel:
From The The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Earlier this year, McDonald’s started unsnobbycoffee.com to promote the launch of espresso drinks in the Seattle market.
Will Starbucks respond in kind? Unlikely.
While the coffee wars received much media and Wall Street trumpeting this year, Starbucks has been mostly silent, maintaining that its customer base is different.

See if you buy this reasoning for the above billboard:

The fact that “four bucks” sort of rhymes with “Starbucks” is not on purpose, said John Livengood, executive creative director at DDB Seattle, McDonald’s advertising agency.
“The idea is, in a billboard, you got three or four seconds to capture people’s attention,” he said. “You’re trying to be as short and sweet and as pithy as possible.”

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. tea drinker says:

    does it follow, dumb and dumber, down the street the next billboard was
    Macs well House
    in my own home in my own coffee cup.

  2. Do they really think that “premium” coffee drinkers are going to abandon their Starbucks, Peets, etc…, habits to sit in a grease filled McDonalds and enjoy their espresso? It may be good for the regular McDonalds customer, but I don’t think that this stupid concept is going to pull in the number of customers or the type of customers that they hope for. Just one more campaign proving that the industry is short on ideas and long on stupid.

  3. I had a McDonald’s coffee yesterday. They were having problems with their machine and it tasted like hot brown water. All the money in the world isn’t worth anything when you can’t deliver on your promises.

  4. It’s funny how Starbucks is perceived in various communities around the country. Where there is little to no coffee culture, the brand is clearly seen as a premium offering. Yet, here in Portland where superior coffee is in abundance, Starbucks is schwag. So in this market, a McDonald’s v. Starbucks matchup makes perfect sense.

  5. It’s apples and oranges, anyway.
    A Starbucks Grande Drip (coffee) is $2.
    It’s the frappa-moch-latte-cino stuff that costs more. Which McD’s doesn’t even sell, right?

  6. Oops. Never mind.
    Just discovered the wispy, microscopic type below the big honking DUMB that quietly informs us “Now serving espresso.”
    Can’t believe I missed it before. 🙂

  7. coffee culture:
    a brief history of coffee in america before 1980.
    1. boston tea party > coffee becomes a patriotic drink
    2. Civil War > staple of the soldiers diet
    (each soldier received up to 36 pounds per year from the gov.
    3. Industrialization & Marketing brand identity, not so much product difference, enters the picture. National and regional branded coffee is packaged and advertised. This coincides with a rise in supermarkets instead of corner stores.
    4. Coffee reaches a peak by the end of wwII.
    75% of Americans 10 and older were now drinking cofee daily. Coffee sellers were ecstatic. there would be no end to this pot of gold or deep amber or whateer.
    Television sponsorship in shows by maxwell house, like “i remember mama”
    5.Consolidation occurs between brands resulting in the big three, Nestle, General Foods, and P&G. Price wars and market share wars. Competitiveness and cost cutting measures bring in a cheaper less tastier product. Coffee consumption decreases. Soft drink, cola, and even fruit juice consumption increases.
    6. Someone remembers better times. Niche markets develop: Peets in SF, Zabar’s in NY
    and Mr. Shulz would start Starbucks.
    (i’ve left the foreign market influence and pressures out of the picture)
    Does anybody else recognize a recurrent pattern?
    Now you can fill in your prophecies.
    I’ve read my tea leaves already.