McDonald's Sends McCafe Onto Fashion Week Catwalks

Will Try to Grab Attention of Tabloid-Loving Young Women for Coffee Offerings

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- McDonald's has hooked up with an unlikely partner for its McCafé specialty coffee drinks' first real close-up -- Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.

Fashionista: McCafe
Fashionista: McCafe
"Fashion Week is a great opportunity to give us a national stage to talk to key influencers and trendsetters," said Sofia Therios, director-marketing, McDonald's USA and lead on the McCafé business. "Tasting is believing. We'll be able to get our product into the mouths of all these people."

Of course, the likes of Anna Wintour and Donatella Versace aren't the fast feeder's core customers. But McDonald's strategy will likely grab the attention of the tabloid-reading young women that follow the tastemakers and celebrities in the front row. When asked whether fashion magazines and celebrity weeklies might be a way to build on its Fashion Week partnership, Ms. Therois said "absolutely," though she declined to discuss specific plans.

While the $1 billion McCafé product launch isn't set for a national ad push until May, the alliance with Fashion Week, which kicks off Feb. 13, indicates women -- with whom McDonald's has long had a tenuous relationship -- will be a major target. For the promotion, McCafé products will be served in Bryant Park's main tent as the "official coffee" of Fashion Week, with free espresso drinks and drip coffee available all week.

McDonald's isn't ignoring men; it's signed on as a sponsor for menswear line Duckie Brown. McCafé beverages will be handed out backstage at the show and Steven Cox, a designer of the line, will detail his experience working at a McDonald's in the show's program.

McDonald's began rolling out lattes, mochas and cappuccinos about a year ago, but the push has been gathering steam over the last four months. The chain now has McCafé products available in about half of its 14,000 U.S. locations and plans to complete the rollout by mid-year. National McCafé advertising, via DDB, Chicago, will begin in May, centering on an iced-mocha beverage promotion.

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David Sterrett of Crain's Chicago Business contributed to this article.

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