As a result, Starbucks has begun to offer a value menu of its own -- $3.95 will get you a coffee and a breakfast pastry or sandwich. Industry experts were left to wonder just how desperate Starbucks must be when it starts competing with McDonald's speciality coffees for business, now available in the coffee bars located in McDonald's restaurants, called McCafes.
Seeing Starbucks adapt its highbrow image to one that boasts value and addresses cost savings is out of line with the company's brand image, said Griner, who suggests this may be the most desperate move a company can make in a wavering economy.
"Starbucks is in a tight spot," said Griner. "When the economy was good, they spent years telling people they're a luxury item, but suddenly they're saying they're cheap and affordable. You can't be both."
Hall agreed: "There is some desperation on the part of Starbucks."
"McDonald's has always sold cheap stuff," Hall said. "McDonald's and Starbucks mean two entirely different things."
Further capitalizing on the public's want for all things cheap, McCafe will be a major sponsor of New York's Fashion Week. While fashionistas such as Vogue's Anna Wintour and the Olsen twins are routinely seen clutching their Starbucks cups, McDonald's is hoping to take over where Starbucks has previously been the item du jour.
In an ad campaign touting three 99-cent sandwiches, fast-food chain Wendy's -- touting the deal as "3conomics" -- tried an advertising technique Hall said he's seeing again and again: trying to use the poor economy in advertising as a way to relate to customers.
In the Wendy's ad, three guys are sitting around a lunch table, all with Wendy's sandwiches in front of them. When one begins to explain to the other two the "basic principles of 3conomics," the others ask him how he knows so much about the deals.
"I used to work on Wall Street," he says.
"They are of course mentioning the economy because people understand it," said Hall. "They're not trying to make fun of it, but they're showing that everyone is affected by the economy and if they're not they know someone who is."
Broadcasters trying to garner ad dollars are even turning to their talent to promote products as a way to reach those viewers who normally tune out during regular commercial breaks.
ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" often features "live commercials" during which characters from the show appear in ads for a product.
In the clip shown here, Kimmel's real-life Uncle Frank Potenza and the show's security guard Guillermo Rodriguez talk about how "sporty" and "luxurious" the Pontiac Solstice GXP is as they sit inside a bright-yellow Solstice.
"This sort of thing is awkward," said Hall. "It reeks of desperation in that it's endless proliferation of advertising because there's so much out there marketers are forced to do more."
"Everyone is looking for a new method that will cut through the clutter," he said.
Griner said that live ads are just "another gimmick aimed at blurring the line between marketing and entertainment."
"Or at least aimed at slipping past the fast-forward button on your DVR."
Fast-food chain Burger King's "Whopper Sacrifice" campaign sought to save both its customers and the company a chunk of change at a time when every cent counts.