Question of the Day: Battle of the Brews

McDonald’s has decided to pick a fight with Starbucks.

In addition to offering espresso drinks to their billions of customers served, the fast food chain has launched a massive online/offline/outdoor marketing effort to distinguish itself from the world’s most popular coffee chain.  The concept is not original – Dunkin’ Donuts has been comparing itself to the Seattle-based coffee giant for years.  The tactics used by McDonald’s however, are worth considering.

According to the Seattle Post-Intellegencer, “McDonald’s has erected a billboard in sight of Starbucks headquarters declaring, “four bucks is dumb.”  Another billboard, located near Starbucks cafes in Western Washington jabs at Starbucks saying “large is the new grande.”   And earlier this year, McDonald’s started to promote the launch of espresso drinks in the Seattle market.

Starbucks hasn’t responded – in part because they argue their customer base is different and in part because they believe their brand can withstand a little friendly ribbing.  But can it?  In a connected age, where reputation matters and opinion can change with one click of a mouse, can Starbucks afford to stay silent?

The question of the day: Should Starbucks fire back?

If you say yes, what should Starbucks say?  And how can they demonstrate that they understand how people get and share information in today’s technology-centric world and what they must do to protect their base?  If you say no, what happens?


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