McDonald’s is making a surprising, embarrassing and uncharacteristic admission to Australian consumers beginning June 5, confessing that its coffee isn’t good enough and pledging to do better.
According to a report in Sydney paper The Australian, McDonald’s will mount “its biggest advertising campaign in the past two years, stretching across TV, radio, newspapers and social media” to admit that many consumers just don’t like its coffee. DDB Sydney handles McDonald’s advertising in Australia. McCafé ads are themed “There’s more to McCafé.”
The cuppa mea culpa is especially galling considering that the McCafé concept originated in Australia in 1993. Additionally, it flies in the face of TV advertising McDonald’s aired in Australia just last fall claiming that blind taste tests showed its McCafé coffee preferred over coffee from “another leading chain.” It was assumed that meant Starbucks, but now you have to wonder. Another recent Australian McCafé commercial lauds “milk expertly frothed by a barista.”
“We are the largest coffee chain in Australia, but we know we are not the most loved,” Helen Nash, McDonald’s COO in Australia told The Australian. “Customers have told us we can do better and we are saying, ‘We have heard you and now we hope you notice the difference.’”
McDonald’s Corp. President Don Thompson last year said the chain’s U.S. coffee sales grew from 2% in 2004 to more than 6% in 2010. In Australia, however, coffee accounts for 10% of sales, according to The Australian. If so, that means coffee is a $146 million category for McDonald’s in Australia, where its 2010 revenues reportedly were $1.46 billion.
The McDonald’s strategy mirrors that taken by Domino’s Pizza in the U.S. last year, with TV spots featuring CEO J. Patrick Doyle admitting its crust tasted like a cardboard. The chain changed recipes for crust and sauces and enjoyed an initial 14.3% bump in sales.