Self-Identification with McDonald's Coffee Blend

Meghan VH

Fill in the blanks:

Blizzard of ___? ‘78

Sprinkles or Jimmies ___? Jimmies

5 inches of snow ___? Dusting

Manhattan chowder ___? Never heard of it

If you know the answers to these questions, you’re a “true New Englander” according to McDonald’s in their new ad campaign for their Newman’s Own coffee.

Newman’s Own New England Blend Ad #1

Newman’s Own New England Blend Ad #2

The brainchild of Chris Edwards, the creative director at the Boston advertising agency Arnold Worldwide and Sylvia Becker, the marketing manager for the regional McDonald’s office, these ads focus on various “New England residents” testing other people on all things New England to determine the authenticity of their New England roots. Once they pass the test, they are permitted to drink Newman’s Own New England blend of coffee. The campaign plays on consumers’ desire to be associated with New England, and specifically, the Boston area. It uses in-group messaging to communicate the idea that if you know New England, you belong (and can drink the New England blend of coffee). However, if you are unable to answer questions about New England, well then, maybe you should choose another coffee blend.

Edwards says, “… this coffee isn’t made for everybody – it’s made for certain people…so you’ve kinda (sic) gotta (sic) prove you’re worthy of this prize” (source: Girl’s Eye View Albany blog). Indeed, the campaign leverages self-identity with the New England brand – and since greater self-identification with a brand translates into stronger equity (i.e., willingness to pay) toward the brand, McDonald’s is banking on the fact that New England residents take enough pride in their heritage that they will visit McDonald’s and buy Newman’s Own coffee. This is a heady bet in a market dominated by hometown favorite Dunkin Donuts, but it just may pay off…

Self-identification with a brand is a strong predictor of purchase behavior, but it’s difficult for consumers to articulate this self-identification uses standard survey methods. For example, it is highly unlikely that a consumer will explicitly tell you that they self-identify with the Pepsi brand. However, Pepsi’s marketing around being young, fun and sexy portray messages that a certain subset of consumers do identify with. Advanced market research methods however, are able to identify those attributes that drive brand preference without relying on self-reported data from consumers. One method currently in use is Sentient’s ABA methodology, which tests consumers’ self-identification with brands in a practical and effective manner, using implicit, not explicit measures. The methodology determines the degree to which consumers self-identify with a particular brand and links self-identification to purchase behavior.

For more information about Sentient and our ABA methodology please go to our website and take the Sentient Challenge. We find this exercise pairs well with a cup of coffee…

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