Starbucks Tries to Out-McDonald’s McDonald’s

Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee—the McDonald’s of drug-laced drink outlets—faces an growing challenge to their core business model as Chicago-based McDonald’s—the McDonald’s of cheap and disgusting hamburgers—pushes into the world of over-priced status-symbol beverages with an increasingly intense campaign.

Starbucks has faced difficulty in recent years, as their increasingly ridiculous gimmicks have failed to draw in and retain a customer base capable of supporting their breakneck rate of expansion, peaking in 2007 when they opened an average of five new stores every second. Make your own CD music kiosks, Apple iTunes integration, and even trained monkey doormen in little green tuxedos have all failed to have a positive impact on the coffee giant’s bottom line.

The altercation with McDonald’s comes as the company tries to pull itself out of a swelling shareholder quagmire, their stock price having lost over half its value in the last year and a half.

Starbucks is plotting a course to recovery that includes the release of Pike Place Roast, a bland signature blend named after their claustrophobic original store, and the reintroduction of the company’s original brown logo, featuring the exposed breasts of a portly mermaid (some people have seriously strange fetishes).

McDonald’s has seen its stock price soar nearly fifty percent while Starbucks languishes, leading them to become cocky, bold, and abrasive. As they thrust their way into Starbucks’ niche, they are making use of gradually more hostile slogans, such as “$4 coffee is dumb,” “Small, medium, large—it’s called English,” and “Only snobs and pretentious jerks buy coffee at Starbucks. You’re not a jerkface snob… are you?”

In response to the recent onslaught of combative advertising by McDonald’s in certain key Starbucks markets, the green beast is also launching an aggressive campaign of its own, under the catch-phrase “It’s too late, you filthy addict, we own you.”

As part of its “we own you” operation, Starbucks is rolling out a series of print and 30-second television ads featuring CEO Howard Schultz silently giving customers his classic “death glare.” In addition to the advertising, they will be adding some innovative new features to their stores, such as bouncers stationed at the doors that will randomly deny entry to caffeine-addicted yuppies and so-called professionals, just to see them squirm.

McDonald's subversive online advertising

McDonald’s is taking a more subversive route with its online advertising, buying a text ads on Google’s AdWords service, linking the term “Starbucks Coffee” to its Starbucks hit job website, on which internet users can compose Mad Libs-style insults directed at Starbucks patrons, filling in templates such as “your _____ espresso is as _____ as a(n) _____,” using phrases like “lumpy,” “vomit-inducing,” and “intoxicated warthog.”

No end seems to be in sight for this historic clash of two obesity-enabling titans. One can only hope that a clear victor emerges before the war of mere words escalates into a full-fledged nuclear standoff.

About the Author

Björn Maximus
Naked Loon Business Reporter

7 Comments on "Starbucks Tries to Out-McDonald’s McDonald’s"

  1. Rachel C | 2008-04-23 at 1:46 PM |

    If you ask me, Starbucks was begging for it…

  2. Ulysses | 2008-04-23 at 2:18 PM |

    Oh man. That’s scary stuff. It’s like watching Hitler get elected: the seeds of war beginning to bud.

  3. Seriously, how stupid is it for McDonald’s to try to even compete with the coffee market. They can’t make a good hamburger let alone a drinkable coffee. Also, the idea of saying that people who like good coffee should stop being snobs and drink the cheap crap we make seems counterproductive as a marketing tool. But hey, pushing unhealthy disgusting food has worked so far, maybe they know something about the average American others don’t.

  4. While I like Starbucks (but prefer Grounds for Change), when traveling it seems that McDonald’s coffee has always been across-the-board consistent and reliably decent. Seems like a logical move for McD – Starbucks needs to get a grip anyway. Never good for a company to rely on the success of the past.

  5. Max Rommel | 2008-04-26 at 9:47 AM |

    McDonald’s makes crappy food but people buy it. Starbuck’s is expensive and McDonald’s will hurt them quite a bit. Starbucks needs to pay it’s baristas minimum wage and do some other cost cutting.

  6. Ulysses | 2008-04-26 at 1:10 PM |

    If they pay their baristas minimum wage they’ll lose a significant amount of personnel, hurting customer service in those stores.

  7. Max Rommel | 2009-06-14 at 8:58 PM |

    Starbuck’s “Baristas” are overpaid waitresses. Give me a break. Cut their pay in half and lower the price of your coffee. Get a grip seattle, we aren’t fools. You charge way too much because you insist on paying a “living wage.” These are entry level jobs. Idiots.

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