So today the mighty M is launching its McCafé brand in the US (I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to savor the flavors up here in Canada), bringing “quality espresso-based coffee” to its restaurants nationwide. They’re trying to take a bite (or gulp, if you will) out of the lucrative coffee market dominated by the likes of Starbucks and whatever other local mega-chain you have around your parts. Will it work, though?

Starbucks has been forced to close lots of shops because of decreasing demand (and overexpansion), so why would McDonald’s try to jump in now? In today’s economy, I can only imagine that higher-priced coffee is one of the first things to get chopped from people’s lists of daily purchases. Have you ever been to a McDonald’s in the prime coffee-drinking morning? It’s either people like me — hungover and ripping through the drive-thru for a full-day supply of Sausage McMuffins — or old people buying their 35-cent “senior coffee” and milking it for all the free refills they can get. I just don’t see the $5-venti-triple-soy-latte-drinking power executive stopping in at Mickey D’s on the way to his next big high-powered meeting.

I’ve seen McCafé in Europe, and the usually-discerning Europeans seem to have no problems buying espresso there… but I have a hard time associating “quality” with the McDonald’s brand. It’s always been the place to go for gluttonous, cheap meals the day after a ridiculous rum-and-tequila bender. If I want gourmet, I’ll go somewhere fancy… like Arby’s or something. That’s a big hurdle for McDonald’s to overcome.

They’ll do their best, though, in the only way corporate America really knows: bein’ baller and throwin’ cheddar. They’re set to launch a $100-million marketing campaign, which seems to be centered around the slogan, “Give it up for the accent.” Ah, wonderful; American marketers once again prove why they’re the best: they can distill a new brand that should be all about “good coffee” into a lame gimmick. Yeah, that’ll sell coffee. The website shows a few skits that convey the difference that little é makes… and… well… they don’t have much to do with coffee or quality or value or anything. I just don’t get it.

What do you think?

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