Take Comfort in Rituals – Starbucks Propaganda

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If you’ve walked by your neighborhood Starbucks recently, you may have noticed this new sign on the door:

I guess I was cranky – coffee withdrawal? – but I immediately blurted out:

“Translation: Even though you probably can’t afford it and may even be unemployed, please continue buying your $4 coffee.”

Too harsh?

Photo credit to timstock via Flickr.

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  1. Not too harsh at all—what a load of crap.

    I have never set foot inside a Starbucks and doubt I ever will.

  2. I was thinking it was so ironic. Maybe it’s distraction from the fact that they just announced a price increase on most drinks on their menu.

  3. Ha!

  4. I don’t remember any $4 coffees unless you are adding like 3 shots of espresso

  5. You can get a tall coffee for $1.50 with free refills (if signed up SB card). This is less than most other stores and restaurants. Most sit downs charge $2-2.50 for unlimited coffee. Even if you go to the locally owned places, the multi-syllabic coffee creations are costly.

  6. I suppose your perspective is one way to look at that message. Another way is to not buy in on advertising and/or corporate messaging and instead view the words in a more personal manner. Family rituals are important and worth maintaining. How many of us continue to follow Thanksgiving and Christmas rituals each year? Every now and then we can find a grain of truth in words from others, even if they come from the minds of the corporate marketing team. The key is to not allow those words to drive us in the same direction as the advertising, unless, of course, it is by our choosing.

  7. Whenever I go to to Starbucks, I always order the “short” size. It’s smaller and cheaper than the “tall” but they they don’t advertise it. I try to give as little as possible when stuck buying corporate coffee.

  8. Jeff Johnson says

    Their coffee isn’t that expensive comparatively, but their coffee sucks. It’s just really not very good – I don’t understand why so many people think it is.
    Want good coffee? Go to einstein bros.

  9. Remember, corporations are not your friend. Their only goal in life is to make as much money as possible.

  10. I used to work in consumer products brand management. This sort of campaign is nothing new. In fact, you don’t have to look any further than another brand in the coffee industry to find another case of a company promoting the rituals around the consumption of a product to sell the product itself. Anyone remember Folgers Coffee’s slogan from the 80’s and 90’s?

    “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.”

    It’s the same thing — the insight is that, instead of hammering phone product attributes — “Now 10% richer taste!” — you remind people of the positive associations with the product. In Folgers’ case, it was “Yeah, waking up to start a long day sucks, but at least you have that hot cup of coffee to look forward to.” In Starbucks’ case, they’re reminding people of how good it feels to lift the coffee off the bar as soon as the barista sets it down.

    From a marketing perspective, this is a completely valid strategy, although it’s a little blunt for my tastes. Usually a well done campaign associated with a “warm and fuzzy” insight hints at it, talks around it, reminds people of it, but doesn’t hit it head on in the tagline. Here, the “Take Comfort” tagline seems to be saying, “Yeah, life is rough right now. Maybe you’ve lost your job or can’t keep up with the bills. But this is a harmless way to escape for a few minutes.” In that way, I think the campaign is a little crude (it could be done with more subtlety) , but that doesn’t mean it won’t be effective or that they’re bad people for trying it.

    Calling it “propagnda” is a little harsh… Is it propaganda when Ford tells me to “Drive One,” or when Southwest Airlines asks if I “Want to get away?” It’s just advertising… Ignore it if you want, but no need to get offended by it.

  11. Starbucks sucks and is overpriced end of story. don’t go there.

  12. Too harsh?

    We are bombarded with advertising yet this bothers you? Does it bother you with the scantly clad people in Calvin Klein billboards or maybe the ads that question your intelligence by explaining things to you in a way that a 5th grader gets it? We all have lines we don’t like crossed by obviously some frustration about something caused you to derive a lot from their new promo.

  13. I agree with Joe. This is no different or worse than any other advertisement out there as far as I’m concerned. Every corporation that sells any good or service wants to separate you from your money. If you dislike coffee or Starbucks then thats fine, don’t buy it.

  14. I don’t mind Starbucks in general. I usually get the $1.95 iced coffee. I do like the $4 Caramel Frappuccino though…

    Ads are ads, but the tone of this one just kind of struck me. It’s like, we know you’re hurting financially and probably shouldn’t buy stuff that is easily cheaper in other forms. But hey, it’s a habit, so it’s okay. Come on in. 🙂

    I did see that SBUX raised prices today. Even more ironic.

  15. worked on me…. ??

    Blame them all you want – starbucks elevated coffee in the USA – I drink it every day (at home),,, and that occassional jolt in the afternoon at the shop 🙂

  16. The reference to 4 (or sometimes 5) dollar coffees come from people who lie to make a point. When I go to Starbuck, I get a coffee and a refill (24 oz) for 1.50. Stop lying to try to make a point. It ruins your credibility.

  17. Even at $1.50 for a short cup, it is overpriced.

    I have a mug from Speedway and I can fill it with 44 ounces of coffee and add the specialty creamers and flavor syrups I want for $1.16 total.

    Plus every sixth mug, I get one for free.

    So by any standard, Starbucks is overpriced.

  18. Secrets Starbucks Doesn’t Want You to Know – some tips on how to make the most of your SBUX experience….
    http://yhoo.it/9Oqk11 – now you can have your coffee and drink it too!

  19. Whoa, when did Starbucks become part of the Axis of Evil? I think there are a few people on this blog that have their cranky pants on today. We are bombarded with advertisements everyday and this one is pretty mild in comparision. Remember, Starbucks is a for profit company. Go have a cup of coffee and chill out.

  20. Poor Jonathan…..he unleashed all of the anger of the Starbucks fanatics on this blog. Get over it ppl….Jon’s right. This slogan just reeks of fakeness.

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