Sophia Therios, Director-Marketing, McDonald's USA

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CHICAGO ( -- McDonald's has had coffee on its menu since the early '80s, with as many as 60 different coffee blends being used in the restaurants. But then McDonald's starting developing a long-term strategy to integrate coffee and related beverages into its core menu.

Credit: Tony Pettinato

In 2006, the fast feeder rolled out premium-blend coffee in its restaurants. The following year, it introduced iced coffee, and in May 2009 rolled out McCafé. In July, McDonald's expanded McCafé with frozen smoothies and frappes.

Thanks to McCafé, coffee has played a larger part in McDonald's sales. During the company's third-quarter earnings call, Chief Operating Officer Don Thompson said coffee percentages in the U.S. have grown to more than 6%, from about 2% in 2004.

The move into premium coffee illustrates McDonald's ability to reinvent itself and appeal to consumers across the spectrum -- and boost sales in new dayparts.

"As you look at how customers use our restaurants today, and how eating out and how habits have changed, gone is traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, even though we sell the majority of our coffee products at breakfast," said McDonald's USA spokeswoman Danya Proud, who worked with Sofia Therios, director-marketing, McDonald's USA, the lead marketing person for the launch of the McCafé beverages. "Some of these other iced beverages really have started to pick up mid-morning and late afternoon."

An aggressive marketing push helped secure buzz around McCafé . Aside from traditional advertising -- general market, TV, radio, and print -- McDonald's set up a booth at Fashion Week in February and September 2009 and ran a Free Mocha Monday promotion in July 2009.

McDonald's continues to expand its offering under the McCafé brand. This month it's introducing a caramel mocha drink, and the company is testing frozen strawberry lemonade in several markets, including Austin and El Paso, Tex.; Detroit; Rochester, N.Y.; and Western Michigan.

Agencies on the roster for McCafé 's coffee, frappe and smoothie lines include Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide and Leo Burnett's Arc Worldwide for promotions; multicultural marketing is handled by Publicis Groupe's Burrell Communications, Interpublic Group of Cos.' IW Group and Omnicom's Alma DDB.

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