Starbucks waters down their blend…er, brand

Picture_5 In response to reduced foot traffic, Starbucks has launched their first foray into TV advertising. 

According to an article in BrandWeek, Starbucks CEO Jim Donald is quoted as saying "we’re trying to reach out to this broader audience that maybe has not had a chance to experience Starbacks."  Sorry Jim…but exactly where are you running these spots?  Outer Mongolia?  Who on this planet has not had the chance to experience Starbucks?  But I digress.

The trio of spots carries the "Pass the Cheer" theme.  YouTube has a foreign version, but you can see the US trio here.

I think these 3 spots are the perfect case study for what’s wrong with much of TV advertising today.

They’re fine. 

Which is exactly the problem.  The animation is fine.  The music is fine.  The message of warmth and goodwill is fine. 

But none of it says Starbucks

Most of it doesn’t even say coffee, let alone point to a specific provider.  One of the golden oldie rules of branding is if you can swap out the current logo and replace it with a competitors — you’ve got problems if the spot still works.

Well, guess what — the spot still works.  (Although I will argue, it’s weak for any coffee company.)

Over at John Moore’s Brand Autopsy, there’s the suggestion that the spots are better suited for Caribou Coffee.  Perhaps. 

But really the point is…in a world of grande, skinny, half-caf, double shot mucho mocha lattes — the Starbuck’s spots are a plain cup of black coffee.  No matter whose logo is on them.

How disappointing from the company we marketers often point to as our branding example. 

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