February 27, 2009

How a McDonald’s BillBoard is Beating Starbucks with Just FOUR Words

by

McDonald’s uses billboards in high visibility locations around Seattle to attack Starbucks. Here’s why their coffee is better

Four Words Says It All

McDonald’s is using these billboards to promote their new espresso drinks.

This is foolproof copywriting at its best — the following two phrases were displayed on 140 billboards across Seattle:

Four Bucks is Dumb

Large is the New Grande

The McDonald’s Attack Plan

  • Location matters: McDonald’s picked Seattle because it is Starbucks’ home ground
  • Long-term communication plan in mind: this is a follow-up to unsnobbycoffee.com to promote the launch of espresso drinks in the Seattle market
  • Picking on just one point: position Starbucks as expensive or snobby
  • A single consistent value proposition that cuts across segments: “We really wanted to point out that ordering an espresso at McDonald’s is quick and simple. Small, medium and large. It’s easy.”
  • Aggressive intentions: some of the billboards were located near Starbucks cafes. Starbucks employees driving northbound can see the billboard on their way into the city
  • Building credibility over the long term: “The thing about these comparative campaigns is you have to hammer away at them for a long time. You can’t just hit someone and then run away. You have to have a lot of marketing dollars to put behind it and that’s something that McDonald’s could theoretically do.”
  • Capitalizing on market conditions: timing is everything with the current economic conditions. “A new type of consumer, more conscientious, less vain, is emerging. Fewer will be slaves to Starbucks”.
  • Aim to win more market share from a new category: “We see ourselves as trying to enter a new category and steal as much of the breakfast and coffee share as we can garner…”

The Starbucks Defense Plan

  • They won’t react: “We’re not going to get into that conversation. We’re not going to get sucked into the, ‘My coffee is better than your coffee,’ price point type of coffee conversation. We’re going to play at a much higher level.”
  • Cheaper modes of advertising: the coffee giant is turning to cheaper modes of advertising via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • Sticking to their game plan: “I think the way we deal with that is not to respond to something that’s that frivolous,” he said. “Are you going to say to your friend, ‘Let’s go meet at Dunkin’ Donuts?’ Are you going to say that?”
  • Remind your customers over and over again: Starbucks employees are being instructed to “remind” customers that the average price of a Starbucks beverage is less than $3, and that 90% of Starbucks drinks cost under $4
  • Use disruptive tactics: Starbucks is introducing instant coffee in its stores, priced from $2.95 — they’re taking every opportunity to “remind” customers of the “affordable luxury”

What Can You Learn From This?

Besides the attack and defense points above, just remember this:

“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.”

Apply this to your daily marketing initiatives (not just billboards, it works with Adwords too) and you will see tremendous results. Of course, foolproof copywriting does matter too =)

*p/s: thanks to the heads up from Marketing Shift & SeattlePI

40 responses to “How a McDonald’s BillBoard is Beating Starbucks with Just FOUR Words”

  1. khailee says:

    dude just popped by to read up and im blown away by the sharp analysis and presentation format. the design of this blog is also VERY direct response focused in EVERY way. Eg. the comment box opens with comments first, name email etc later. way to go praveen.

  2. Hey, thanks for the constructive feedback buddy! I'm obviously suffering from a “blogging block” now – gotta get back to this with a new post.

  3. Great insights, each companies really has their own unique strategies, its all about how to drive costumers and how to defend themselves on criticism, I really learned something from this entry.

  4. Ouch! Now that's gonna hurt, what a way to advertise your product. Some people will love it or even more hate it.

  5. I absolutely agree with you, some might switch to the competitor to support them.

  6. I'm so in love with that billboard now!
    Indeed FOOLPROOF COPYWRITING!
    Good Job Praveen!

  7. Isis says:

    They won’t react: “We’re not going to get into that conversation. We’re not going to get sucked into the, ‘My coffee is better than your coffee,’ price point type of coffee conversation. We’re going to play at a much higher level.”

    That's what professional people do. Well done Starbucks!

  8. Short, sweet, and compelling. I love this approach by McDonald's! Economic efficiency definitely attracts attention. I wonder how Starbucks reacted to his?

  9. I think Now that's gonna hurt, what a way to advertise your product. Some people will love it or even more hate it for sure.

    Thanks and Regards

  10. Simple, striking, and direct to the point. This campaign by McDonald's is dead on in getting attention. I love it!

  11. unisys says:

    it sounds rude even if it's not a direct word against starbucks, starbucks isn't economical it was just luxury, you can get better coffee at cheaper price.

  12. Amritg says:

    This coffee is very tasty. I am a big fan of it.

  13. Adrianalima says:

    Espresso coffee is the stress reliever. I often use it in in stressful situation.

  14. max191 says:

    I entered your blog from google search. You really have done a good effort. Thanks for the wonderful blog.
    regards
    charcoal grill

  15. a) Coffee at starbucks is like $1.50-$2, not $4, that's for one of those crazy dessert coffees.
    b) It's true, nobody is going to drop by at McDonalds with their laptop to hang out and get some work done.

  16. Nice posts. Mcdonald is facing tough competition from other vendors.Some of the billboards were located near Starbucks cafes. Starbucks employees driving northbound can see the billboard on their way into the city.

  17. The advertisement on internet is cheaper and yet very effective as well. Cheaper modes of advertising: the coffee giant is turning to cheaper modes of advertising via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter

  18. This is a pretty smart strategy on McDonald's part. I believe everything billboard's say, 100%, without question. I will be switching from Starbucks to McDonald's from now on. I hate Starbucks now.

  19. Guilin Tour says:

    That Sounds interesting, I agree with you.Please keep at your good work, I would come back often.*

  20. Lhasa Tours says:

    That Sounds interesting, I agree with you.Please keep at your good work, I would come back often.*

  21. planolocksmiths says:

    Great strategy for billboard marketing and its great idea to the point.

  22. Lhasa Tour says:

    That Sounds interesting, I agree with you.Please keep at your good work, I would come back often.*

  23. Isn't it too expensive for a cup of coffee?

  24. This is a good example of competition with sense. Never indulge in black tactics and never resort to the same in order to shun any untoward unhealthy competition.

  25. Dogs says:

    the billboard sounds interesting, good one!

  26. Well i think that Starbucks employees driving northbound can see the billboard on their way into the city.

  27. Well i think that Remind your customers over and over again: Starbucks employees are being instructed to “remind” customers that the average price of a Starbucks beverage is less than $3, and that 90% of Starbucks drinks cost under $4.

  28. We just have to be alert with what's the truth behind the “scene”.

  29. As long as there are no “personal attacks”, this is a healthy competition.

  30. Thanks for sharing this information. I got a chance to know about this.

  31. dodly says:

    I liked your article very useful to me. I will come back and read the article again.

    http://mcdonaldsnutritionchart.blogspot.com/

  32. This is but normal in the business world. But competition should be done with caution and conscience.

  33. beeshpatti says:

    Every one in business do this kind of bitching. It is a funda of dong business.

  34. It is cool idea, that is why mcdonalds so popular in the world.

  35. nileshgoyal80 says:

    cool one. I am loving it.

  36. kkabhiei says:

    I like the site after going through whole of it.

  37. sweety90 says:

    I 'm lovin it. I love Mc Donalds.

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  39. Loved to read your blog. I would like to suggest you that traffic show most people read blogs on Mondays. So it should encourage bloggers to write new write ups over the weekend primarily. regards Roko Seaton

  40. rachellemadrigal says:

    Pretty good post. I found your website perfect for my needs. Thanks for sharing the great ideas.

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