Starbucks Frappuccino vs McDonald’s Frappé

If you haven’t already noticed, the war between Starbucks and McDonald’s coffee has officially gotten serious. It’s a rare day that you don’t see some type of advertisement for one of the two. Starbucks launched their However-You-Want-It Starbucks Frappuccino Happy Hour from May 7th-16th which offered 1/2 off all Frappuccinos and McDonald’s introduced their new McCafe Frappes. So which campaign is going better?

Let’s compare:


Starbucks has their own YouTube account and I pulled one of their However-You-Want-It Starbucks Frappuccino Happy Hour promotional videos.

In addition to their commercials, Starbucks has partnered with Gossip Girl to challenge viewers to create a “blend-up” of Gossip Girl episodes and win a trip to the TV shows set in New York City. Congratulations to the winner Stephanie!

McDonald’s on the other hand has been primarily advertising on Hulu. If you watch TV shows or movies on Hulu then you have more than likely seen the McDonald’s Frappé commercial with the straw paparazzi running around.

So is Hulu an effective way to advertise? I know that I watch at least four shows on Hulu every week [LOST, Glee, House, Modern Family] but the commercials don’t really stick in my mind. I haven’t watched a show on a formal TV in ages even though there is one sitting my living room [probably because we are lacking a couch] so I have not seen any of the commercials on TV. What do you think?

Student Involvement

Both Starbucks and McDonald’s decided to recruit young PR students to help promote their drinks for the summer. Starbucks went through PRSSA [Public Relations Student Society of America] while McDonald’s opened the challenge up to any marketing, PR, or advertising majors that formed a team based on region. For example, DePaul University students competed in the MOCNI [McDonald’s Owners of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana’s] Campus Frappé Competition.

As a DePaul PRSSA member, I jumped on the chance to work on a real campaign. My team was named “DePaul Tall” and we formulated a PR campaign around background research and Starbucks objectives for Happy Hour. The competition has allowed me to gain experience on so many levels. Since my team is still finishing up evaluations and writing the final results, I will probably end up writing an in-depth post in early June.

The marketing team that campaigned for McDonald’s on DePaul’s campus definitely made their mark. The group had a huge trailer parked outside the Student Center and was giving away free samples of McDonald’s Frappes. Choosing to stay loyal to my company and team, I put on my shades and walked by the trailer with my “don’t offer me free drinks” game face.

Options vs Price

Starbucks whole However-You-Want-It Frappuccino Happy Hour campaign was all about customization. The customer can decide the intensity of the coffee, the flavor of the syrup, the toppings, the whipped cream, and the milk. There is also a lite option that cuts the calories significantly. Of course with the abundant options comes the normal Starbucks price which is about $3.75.

McDonald’s has limited options but the cheaper price of about $2.50 [$1.99 for limited time only in some areas like Philly]. However, if you are lactose intolerant like myself and you ask for soy in your drink be prepared for a shut down. When I mentioned soy to the lady at the cashier I was met with a disgusted face and a stern no. However, as a poor college student I am always looking for a better price.


Starbucks has theMy Starbucks Ideas blog which allows customers to voice their opinions and the new Frappuccino website. At the Frappuccino website you can view all of the options for your drink, check the nutritional value, and create a fun design that links with Facebook.

McDonald’s has the their McCafe menu as part of their regular site with the nutritional value listed. However, it should be noted that McDonald’s has separate websites for different regions. An example is Northeast Ohio’s McCafe site.

So who wins the competition?

Right now I feel that Starbucks has the upper-hand. However, this really could just be because I am technically working for them to help promote Happy Hour [which is now sadly over]. In the end, the two companies are really only fighting over a small audience that is indecisive. I feel that for the most part Starbucks fans are incredibly loyal regardless of the price because they want the options and the quality of the coffee. McDonald’s McCafe is inexpensive and that alone will immediately win certain people over.

What do you think?


About LSnyder

I am a Freshman at DePaul University majoring in PR & Advertising. I'm obsessed with the following: the Holidays especially Christmas, food and its glorious temptations, New York City, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a good book. I'm a writer, a photographer, an artist, and, most importantly, a creater.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s