Caffeine fixation: McCafe aspires to the cafe culture

McCafe Hong Kong's new campaign wants consumers to know that its brew is not inferior.

At HK$14 a cup, a long black at a McCafe is less than half the price of what coffee drinkers have to pay at a regular coffee chain. Yet value proposition isn't really the motivation for consumers who like to spend their time and money at places like Starbucks because to many of them, the same brew can be a different product if it is not served with an Instagrammable foam.

McCafe's new social experiment-styled campaign by DDB Hong Kong wants consumers to judge its brew by what's in the cup, rather than the brand logo slapped on the cup. The brand rolled out coffee van tours in the city during the launch of the Cocoa Tazza brew in May with Taiwanese star barrista Van Lin. Andreas Krasser, head of strategy and innovation, DDB Group Hong Kong, called it a down-to-earth approach to get consumers to try a McCafe coffee. 

"The real challenge is to help these people rethink their evaluation criteria of what makes a great cup of coffee," said Krasser. He gave wine as an analogy to explain McCafe's attempt at cafe culture.

"Many people pick it up as a habit in the context of a certain lifestyle, the real appreciation of the product itself takes a little more time. Wine in Hong Kong certainly has evolved and is no longer just seen a drink for fancy occasions, our campaign basically aims at speeding up a similar process within the world of coffee," said Krasser. He disagreed that it would be a challenge to change the habits of the white collar consumers who typically get their caffeine fix at regular chains since they are already part of McDonald's one-million customer base.

While McCafe may not aspire to the  "superficial aspects" that Krassers said mainstream coffee consumers prefer, the cafe offshoot has tried hard to shed its fast-food lineage with the conspicuous absence of the golden arches for its branding. Independent McCafe outlets in Hong Kong have a full menu of Instagrammable items such as a sundae topped waffles with berries, and the brand has just launched its account on the social media platform this week.


VP Regional Director, DDB Asia: Peter Rodenbeck
Head of Strategy and Innovation: Andreas Krasser
Executive Creative Director: Jamal Hamidi
Creative Director: Ben Ling
Associate Creative Director: Anderson Wan
Senior Art Director: Joseph Lam
Business Director: Noel Yuen
Associate Account Director: Daniel Law
Head of Broadcast: Annie Tong
TV Producer: Wai Hung Wong
Director: Cho Cheng, Phi Workshop

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