Why I’m Not Mad About That McDonald’s Coffee Commercial

McDonalds Coffee
McDonald’s in the United Kingdom released a commercial ribbing specialty coffee shops last week, and a lot of baristas took to social media to voice their anger. The video ridiculed craft coffee shops for having limited hours, being over priced, taking too long, having rewards cards, and frankly just being too precious when it comes to coffee. As voiced by one actor in the commercial, McDonald’s is the place for people who “just want a cup of coffee.”

Although I found the joke about tipping to be tone deaf coming from a multinational company infamous for paying low wages, I’m not mad about McDonald’s coffee commercial. In fact, I kind of welcome it. I remember when seeking out a good coffee shop meant scouring online forums and blogs, not to mention printing off directions from Google maps (this was before the iPhone, at least before I had one anyway). For specialty coffee to be mainstream enough to be lampooned by one of the largest fast food chains in the world is kind of amazing.

But more importantly, I hope coffee professionals gain a bit of perspective from this commercial. Specialty grade coffee represents roughly 10% of the coffee grown in the world, meaning the other 90% of coffee being consumed is commodity grade. There’s simply not enough specialty coffee being grown for everyone to consume, and loads of people enjoy the commodity grade stuff just fine.  To someone perfectly content with their fast food coffee, most craft cafés come across as elitist.

As an industry, we often talk about making specialty coffee approachable. Maybe we need to learn to laugh at ourselves first.

4 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Mad About That McDonald’s Coffee Commercial

  1. The McDonald’s team that created this marketing campaign were smart! They did two things right – The first, they made coffee shops look like they are overdoing stuff that don’t matter to the 90% of consumers. The second thing right, they targeted 90% of their consumers and relayed that it is alright that YOU “just want a cup of coffee.” all the other stuff is no necessary.

    I thought the commercial was funny. I disagree but does that really matter? If I basing my self-perception on coffee (in fact everything not just coffee) on commercial that companies pay gobs of money to create. It is no longer self-perception it is paid-perception.

  2. I have mixed feelings about the commercial. I think the comments above are spot on. So I guess it’s smart marketing to hone in on the preconceived “elitist” attitude of coffee shops. As the comments reflect, most people are happy with commodity coffee. Guess I’m a bit of a spoil sport. 🙂

  3. I thought it was a cute commercial that did cut me a little bit. But whatever the path forward for specialty coffee is, it’s not McCafe. I’ve tried it several times during rural, midnight commutes where nothing else is open and more often than not the clerk has no idea what you’re talking about- they have to look at the menu and ask a manager what that fancy coffee drink you want it. It’s not as easy as the picture they paint.

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