When you think about it, you really have to give Starbuck’s a hell of a lot of credit, whether you like their coffee and their business practices or not. Here’s why: Starbuck’s could easily fall down on the job, lean back a bit and sail on their complete global dominance in the coffee and café market, but they’re not. Case in point: their latest pumpkin spice latte campaign.
Laugh if you will, but my best friend from high school and I have this tradition of alerting each other when the first pumpkin spice lattes hit Starbuck’s. I think we’ve been doing this since we were 15. And what’s funny is, we’re not alone in this. This has become an annual tradition for people all around the world.
And this year’s campaign to promote the PSL’s official arrival is some of the most creative marketing I’ve seen in a while.
Here’s how it works:
On Twitter, I saw that Starbuck’s had promoted the Pumpkin Spice Latte account, @TheRealPSL.
No, I am not a follower of Starbuck’s OR the Pumpkin Spice Latte account on Twitter, but I saw the (paid) promotion in my Twitter feed:
Instantly, I thought about my friend and sent this to her in an email, feeling that sense of fun over our inside joke and the excitement that our favorite little commercial harbinger of Fall had arrived. Then I looked closer, and clicked on the link in the tweet. It brought me to the landing page for their campaign:
On the landing page you are told to solve a riddle relating to fall, and once you solve the riddle, you are given a secret code.
You are then told to bring this into a barista at your local Starbuck’s to unlock the PSL for everyone in that specific location, officially unleashing “fall’s favorite beverage.”
So, let’s go back and take some account of what’s happened just in the course of my following through with these steps, and let’s assume I go to the closest Starbuck’s and hand them this code.
This campaign has combined elements of social (Twitter), mobile (on my phone), gamification (solving riddles, getting there first), physical brick-and-mortar sales (bring the code to your closest/local store), has turned a product into an event, has combated the threat of a stale menu (promotion of a new, seasonally available item) and brand fatigue (so you don’t have to order the same vanilla latte yet again), and promotes values of community (you’re doing this for the people at your local Starbuck’s) and that ever-elusive aura of seasonality (only available in the Fall, a sign that Autumn has arrived) at the same time.
It’s relatively simple in execution, doesn’t require a lot of effort, but is seamless in its experience. It’s an excellent example of how companies can tie social promotion and social communities to web campaigns, and then to in-store sales or physical events. Quite an elegant and effective design, and a great example to anyone in marketing.
Thought it was worth sharing.