Thursday, October 09, 2008

The American Culture War: Now Also in Coffee Advertising


It's not only in politics where we Americans have the crazy idea that everyone must fit into one of the two following categories: snotty liberal arugula-eating wannabe Europeans, or clueless conservative "real" Americans. Now we can also find it in the advertising realm. With all due respect to PapaScott, I think this ad is pretty lame. By getting lattes and whatever other fancy coffee drinks at McDonald's, aren't they trying to target the same folks they're insulting here?

And let's look at the things that are implicitly negative according to the ad:
* jazz
* women wearing flats
* reading books
* disinterest in reality TV shows
* knowing how to speak French
* knowing where Paraguay is located or even that it exists
* women wearing clothing that covers their knees

Funny stuff, eh!?


  1. Now that *is* funny! I'll be curious to see how effective the McCafe concept will be.

  2. The video won't play for some reason... but it's probably just as well. It sounds like something that would piss off an arugula-lover like me, anyway...

  3. Boo.

    Another reason to be glad you don't live in the U.S.: the fact that this ad obviously made it past a focus group somewhere.

  4. Have you ever heard the German line, "The American idea of culture is Yogurt" ?

    This is cute, because it reminds me of more than a few people I knew in NYC.

  5. Since jazz is a truly American-born art form, I wonder what music folks at McDonald's enjoy? Chinese?

  6. This reminds me of that talking Barbie that used to say things like "I love shopping!" and "Math is hard!" That was in 1992.

    Good to know we've come so far since then.


  7. Diane: From PapaScott it sounds like it's working well in Germany.

    Jul: It's pretty annoying.

    Cliff: One of several reasons!

    Mike: I've heard that one!! That's not a definition of culture that I find very useful. Every place has its own culture.

    Noel: That's a good point. Jazz is as American as NASCAR and Walmart. How did it ever become something associated with elitism?

    Sarah: It does add to the pain that this ad involved women.

  8. No need to apologize, I find this ad strange as well. I should note, though, that McCafé in the US is not the same as what McD in Germany has done. Here we have separate coffee counters with baristas, and have redesigned the entire lobby to have the lounge character that this ad seems to be ridiculing. A few restaurants even have a fireplace, like in the ad. In the States they're putting new coffee machines behind the counter but are not upgrading the entire restaurant experience. Of course the States has a different coffee market than Germany. There Starbucks is the established leader, and McDonald's is competing on convenience and price. In Germany McCafé is the market leader, and Starbucks is catching up to us.

  9. I didn't think that the French bit was meant to be negative, just that she had had to pretend to have talents she didn't in order to "fit in" which she wouldn't have to do at McDonalds.

    my €0,02

    I don't mind the music in SB and the video screen at MD is umm jarring. Ah well, I am not in either often.

  10. Absolutely hilarious! But I'm with Papa Scott in this one. McCafe is almost fancy here. But the chairs are uttely uncomfortable. But according to my dad, who teaches about this sort of thing, they do that on purpose, along with make all the colors red and yellow. Because those types of colors indicate urgency and makes you want to leave subconsciously. That and the back pain inducing chairs.

  11. PapaScott: Thanks for the awesome insider perspective!! :D

    Ann: Yeah, but I never felt like I didn't belong at a coffee shop...most people there are just normal. And man, I'm usually one of the first to feel like I'm not cool enough for a particular establishment! I guess I just have a different perception of them.

    Sahaja: Interesting! It's true, I never feel like lingering in an ugly fast food joint...


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