McDonald restaurants from coast to coast are introducing a McCafe line of espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes. The McCafes are already active in 2500 McDonald’s, with over 14,000 units expected to serve them by the middle of 2009. McDonald’s main purpose here is to add to their bottom line, but the willingness to expand into this market segment reveals a significant perceived shift in American society. McDonald’s knows Red State America like no one else, making this move a key indicator in the 2008 Presidential Election.
Twenty-five years ago the only people in the US drinking cappuccinos, espressos, and lattes lived in Seattle, Los Angeles, and the Northeast Corridor. They were poets, gays, displaced Europeans, Ivy League elites, and girls whose Dads had sent them to Nice for the summer. Things changed when Starbucks burst onto the national scene in the 1990’s, becoming the purveyor of foamy coffee, Italian slang, and alternative, non-threatening music. Whether due to marketing, good coffee, or stratospheric sugar content, many Americans started drinking Starbucks-type concoctions. In the third quarter of 2008, Starbucks sold over 2.0 billion dollars worth of coffee in the United States. Those sales can’t have come in Blue States alone.
Naturally, McDonald’s wants a piece of the action. It’s clear that the 29 billion-in-annual-US-sales behemouth has determined that the citizens of Wichita, Missoula, Gary, Little Rock, Davenport, and Cheyenne are ready to abandon their Chock Full o’Nuts tin cans for a McCafe Hazlenut Iced Latte. If the mindset that governs our heartland’s most important drink of the day can be altered, then the thought process with which Americans choose their President can also evolve.
This mid-American transformation will extend right into the 2008 election. McDonald’s is certain that their customer base (not exactly your Northeastern Liberal Elite Obama-types) will drink these foofy mega-coffees. The Hangover is equally sure that this means the Red Staters are ready to expand their range of political thought. Typical Republican scare tactics will fall short and “change” will rule. Obama will carry some traditional Republican states and win. McDonald’s tell us so.