View Full Version : "Four Bucks Is Dumb", McDonald's Sneers At Starbucks.

12-11-2008, 12:29 PM

Starbucks won't slug it out in ad wars
Coffee chain says it'll take high road


McDonald's has erected a billboard in sight of Starbucks headquarters declaring, "four bucks is dumb."

If Dunkin' Donuts' taste test commercials were the schoolyard equivalent of blowing spitballs at the coffee giant from afar, then the latest from McDonald's is like pulling a wedgie. Starbucks employees driving northbound can see the billboard on their way into the city.

Another billboard slogan jabs, "large is the new grande." The two phrases are displayed on 140 billboards in Western Washington, some of them near Starbucks cafes.

"The billboard placement was done because we picked high visibility locations," said Alan Finkelstein, who owns four McDonald's in King County. "We really wanted to point out that ordering an espresso at McDonald's is quick and simple. Small, medium and large. It's easy."

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.


During an interview that aired this week with CBS anchor Katie Couric, Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz made clear his feelings about one of the rivals.

"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?"


A new type of consumer, more conscientious, less vain, is emerging. Fewer will be "slaves" to Starbucks, he said.

"We're going to come out with a new identity. It doesn't mean that people won't go in and buy a Starbucks cup of coffee, but they'll know why they're buying it again. It's more like a reboot."

The advertising campaigns against Starbucks signal a shift in the rules, especially when a corporate behemoth such as Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's goes after a company half its size.

The commonly held wisdom that attack ads are an underdog's game no longer applies, said Emily Bryson York, a Chicago-based food reporter for Advertising Age.

Attack ads are popular right now: Mac vs. PC. Campbell's vs. Progresso. Dunkin' vs. Starbucks.

Why wouldn't I meet someone at Dunkin' Donuts? :confused:

Coffee Wars (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/391566_sbuxrivals11.html)

Space Gravy
12-11-2008, 12:45 PM
I do see his point. Most of the Starbuck's regulars I know are into the trendy experience with the comfy seats and the Wi-Fi as much as the coffee.

I'm not sure Mickey D's will pry these folks away based on saving a couple of bucks.

I don't go anywhere for coffee. I make my own.

12-11-2008, 12:59 PM
Starbucks over-roasts their coffee beans.
Many "mom and pop" coffee shops serve better coffee. Still four bucks, but it's better than the swill they pour at Starbucks.

12-11-2008, 03:03 PM
My sister totally dumped Starbucks for the cheaper McDonald's coffee. She's a drive-thru person, though.