Starbucks’ Echo Chamber

Few people love Starbucks coffee as much as I do. Serious. I’ve been brewing it up at home and frequenting their stores since they first came to Chicago. 15+ years?

So when Starbucks started running their (very expensive) print advertising campaign (full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, et al), I was really pumped to see how they were going to reclaim turf lost to McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.

But when I saw the ads I was nonplussed. No call to action. No “come back Shane” offer. Nothing. Not even a simple download to get a white paper on taste test, or something. Just another chapter in the long book of echo-chamber ads, which appeal to only the most insider of insiders.

This kind of ad is merely for image-alone (satisfy grumpy shareholders?). There’s no way to measure the effectiveness of this ad campaign (a call-to-action would have done that).

Why am I so sensitive to this kind of lame advertising? Because I ran two campaigns like this during my career (one at U.S. Robotics and the other at Productivity Point International) and they, like this one (I’m predicting) were abject failures. They are the worst kind of marketing because they do so little to move the needle. You read the ad, say to yourself, “that was nice,” and turn the page.

Just think what Starbucks could have done

For example, they could have printed a 2-for-1 deal. You know, bring a friend and get two coffees for the price of one (no specialty drinks, just the hot java). To make it fun, why not offer a bounty for Starbucks aficionados (like me) for bringing in a ‘ buddy (like my friend Brant Dolan or Mark Smith) who don’t like Starbucks?

At least my ideas would break the monotony of these beat-my-chest, “I’ve got the best product in the world…if only people would wake-up” ads.

[Note: Ad images courtesy I wrote about how to use Competitrack (see this Marketing Strategy) to analyze your competitor's advertising activity, as well as estimate their media budget. Kinda helpful to know what your competitors are doing and how much they're spending BEFORE you go into the board meeting to ask for marketing dollars, especially these days....]