From September 16 to 29, participating McDonald's restaurants around the country are giving one free small McCafé coffee per customer during the location's breakfast hours—generally from around 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
The move comes at a time when the world's fast food giants are embroiled in a battle for consumers' breakfast dollars, when on-the-go Americans are less likely to be eating cereal or anything else at home—and are more prone to swing by a chain restaurant for a quick fix of calories and caffeine. After Taco Bell launched a breakfast menu earlier this year (and also launched some funny ads poking fun of Ronald McDonald to generate attention), McDonald's responded by giving away coffee for a 14-day period starting in late March.
The new coffee giveaway, roughly six months after the first one, is basically a repeat performance, a McDonald's statement explained: "This event builds on McDonald’s first-ever Free Coffee Event launched in March, when the company gave away millions of cups of free coffee during the two-week period."
With a two-week giveaway in the fall, a few weeks after the new school year started—when mornings for families and students still feel exceptionally hectic and harried—McDonald's is likely seeking to position itself as a quick and convenient habit that'll help you get your day started a little easier. The idea is to give out lots of free coffee now, with the goal being that 1) customers will buy breakfast when they're picking up free coffee; and 2) customers will keep coming back for breakfast and coffee (and perhaps lunch and dinner, too) long after the freebie promotion is over.
It also must be noted that the promotion comes on the heels of McDonald's suffering through a horrible month for sales in August, when global same-story sales were down 3.7%. Giveaways are always known to juice sales, and McDonald's is hoping that this giveaway more than pays for itself in the form of boosting sales in the long run.