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Starbucks FINALLY To Start Telling Its Story

Starbucks Coffee Company’s CMO, Terry Davenport, provided a preview of their new long-term brand campaign on their Ideas In Action blog.

Terry declares that Starbucks is finally going to start telling its story.

(1) I hope so.
(2) I hope it is not too late.

As a former marketer for Starbucks, one of the most frustrating aspects of working there was the decision of leadership NOT to tell the Starbucks story. Starbucks never proudly and bluntly explained why their coffee was and is the best quality.

Fairest Trade Coffee

A perfect example. A few years ago Starbucks was being pressured by the Fair Trade organization and its followers to serve Fair Trade certified coffee in Starbucks cafes.

Instead of explaining why/how, Starbucks relationships and buying practices were better than Fair Trade… (I always wanted them to do a Starbucks Coffee is Fairest Trade Coffee)… They caved to the Fair Trade marketing machine and sold a Fair Trade certified whole bean coffee.

That wasn’t enough for protestors… So Starbucks started brewing a Fair Trade coffee once a week. That wasn’t enough… And it will never be enough until Starbucks offered all Fair Trade all the time.

UNLESS… Starbucks made it clear why/how Starbucks…

  • has better relationships with farmers,
  • offers more for the communities they buy from, AND also
  • offers quality that Fair Trade can’t.

The true danger to coffee growers are mega-coffee companies that buy coffee in bulk. But, where do you stand with a protest sign if you want to boycott Kraft’s Maxwell House or Smucker Company’s Folgers? Additionally, the media LOVE to show up to an anti-Starbucks protest.

So, why didn’t Starbucks just say that in the first place? I don’t know.

But, now with McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts and other coffee providers offering a bold tasting coffee… and Starbucks offering value-meals… The difference between fast food coffee and Starbucks is very blurry.

Maybe now, finally… Starbucks will share what makes them the highest quality coffee. Why it is worth paying more for a cup of Starbucks.

Talk + Walk = Success

The WALK: Starbucks building awareness of coffee quality and responsible sourcing is Part 1. But Starbucks also needs to do the WALK: the in-store experience. Part 2 needs to focus on highest quality preparation of beverages (fresh steamed milk, freshly pulled espresso shots), and unparalleled customer service.

TALK + WALK = Starbucks Success

The ads (below) focus on quality, taste and passion. There isn’t mention of “Shared Planet” which is Starbucks responsible/quality program. (i.e. Fairest Trade coffee).

The campaign kicked-off this past weekend with a full-page ad in the New York Times. Below are a few of the ads from the campaign. Below each, I’ve added my 2¢. (Or €.02 for my European readers)

This one is nice. It conveys passion of the company and partners, but with a wink to founder Howard Schultz’s book Pour Your Heart Into It.

Clever. Drinking coffee else where will compromise taste. (Again, if the barista is making it right… that’s that WALK piece I mention above).

Excellent. You may pay less, but your taste buds pay the difference.

While I’m sure nearly any place will re-make your coffee for you. AND this has been a Starbucks policy since the day they opened the stores… Again, it is something the company never communicated well. We just assumed customers knew this. So… you may “pay $4 for a latte” but it will be perfect or they’ll remake it for you.

It’s great to see Starbucks finally putting their money where their mouth should be. These ads may PONG the PING from Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s, but hopefully be a campaign Starbucks will stick with to continue to tell the story.

These ads were created by BBDO, New York.

What do you think? Does this make you feel better about Starbucks? Do you think they’ll get their groove back?

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