Starbucks used the occasion of International/National Coffee Day (get it together, folks) to launch its first national branding campaign yesterday, a mini-documentary that selects video footage shot in 59 stores in 28 countries by 29 filmmakers and 10 photographers during the same 24-hour period.
“The focus is very much not on Starbucks (well, kind of not on Starbucks) but on the millions of people who get together at its stores every day — and the stories they have to tell,” writes Tim Nudd in an Adweek “Ad of the Day” piece. “The feel-good theme is ‘Meet me at Starbucks,’ and the centerpiece — a five-minute-plus mini documentary by 72andSunny — shows people doing just that.”
There are also :30 and :60 televisions spots carved from the footage. “The spots will air on broadcast and cable networks, including A&E, ESPN and Discovery,” reports the Seattle Times’ Ángel González, who also points out that the “coffee giant is undergoing a major push out of its home U.S. market.”
“Vignettes range from showing how a scrapbook group regularly meeting at a Starbucks in America helped a mother overcome the loss of her daughter to how a band in Japan held an audition for their newest member at a local store,” reports Sebastian Joseph in the U.K’s Marketing Week. “Fans are able to deviate from the main document and hear more about each story by clicking on the videos at certain points.”
Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills tells Advertising Age’s Maureen Morrison that “the campaign stems from the idea that there are so many easy ways to be connected thanks to technology, but ‘we're not really connected unless we're face to face.’”
“The work that 72andSunny did originates from Starbucks' monitoring its customers on social media,” Morrison continues. “Mills said that the company noticed multiple videos on YouTube of Starbucks fans and found ‘there were stories that were taking place inside our stores.’ She said the original intention was to create a film based on those videos, but the idea grew, so the company enlisted 72andSunny to take on the bigger project.”
“How do they bring warmth back to the brand that has become so massive?,” Scott Lerman, CEO of branding firm Lucid Brands rhetorically asks the Wall Street Journal’s Suzanne Vranica. “Millennials have grown up with the brand being so dominant and a fixture on every street corner,” Lerman said. “This ad campaign” [could remind them that there is] “a heart under the corporate gloss.”
One image the campaign does not convey, Vranica points out, is “the legions of consumers that are found sitting in Starbucks with their faces buried in a laptop.”
Attempting to generate “likes” and “retweets” no doubt. Starbucks own social media savvy has long been trumpeted in the media, of course, as well it might be.
“Back in the social-media stone age, about 2005, customers who yearned to interact with Starbucks could talk to a barista or read quotes on its coffee cups,” pointed outthe Seattle Times’ Melissa Allison in a story last year examining how it had gathered “34 million fans on Facebook.” (It’s up to 37.6 million this morning.)
“‘Love wins,’ read quote No. 257, from television and radio host Tavis Smiley…,” Allison continues. “Now fans interact with the world’s largest coffee-shop chain without even visiting a cafe. They just log on to their favorite social-media site and there’s Starbucks or Frappuccino or Starbucks Indonesia chatting away.”
The company hasn’t forgotten those roots, including a compilation yesterday of baristas and customers recalling their first taste of coffee — “memories,” a press release that compiles some representative samples informs us, “as varied as the beverages Starbucks baristas handcraft every day.”
Speaking of PR, Starbucks’ success in social media has also been an exemplar for firms wishing to promote their own capabilities. But evidently it can do good, old-fashioned, global brand-building television campaigns, as well as YouTube, well, too.
“I see this being a very well-received advertising message by the masses,” one commenter to Joseph’s coverage in the U.K.’s Marketing Week writes.” It is a message that can be received in nearly all languages and cultures.”
According to Punchbowl, by the way, National Coffee Day promotions yesterday also included these freebies: a small McCafé coffee during breakfast hours at participating McDonald's; a cup of joe — no purchase required — at participating Krispy Kremes, and a free medium Dark Roast coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts (not to mention local offers).