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P.S. Starbucks Hearts me 4

07/24/2009

Brand evangelism. Free advertising. Groundswell.

C Tizzalicious

Magnets | © 2008 Tizzalicious

Whatever you call it, Starbucks had it on 7.21 free pastry day to celebrate “Real Food. Simply Delicious.”

On the crest of a social media marketing swell, Starbucks celebrated a new line of healthier baked-good choices developed with input from Starbucks loyalists.

Let’s recap how all the buzz came about and then observe critically how this campaign demonstrates the ongoing redefinition of advertising, promotion, and multichannel interactive marketing.

Starbucks.com visitors clicked to a real foods page. With a second opt-in click (tactically labeled “invitation”) people could print a voucher for a free pastry with paid purchase of a hot beverage. Mobile options were also available.

Yes, traditional marketers, smile and be satisfied. A purchase further verifies consumer interest in the core product, not simply the incentive — in this case “free.” While front-end response is diminished, back-end response remains stable.

Did I get my free pastry in the Starbucks social media frenzy of 7.21.09?

From Web 2.0 – Real Food. Simply Delicious

Well, frankly, the soggy weather won out over the brick and mortar frenzy of in-store marketing. Besides, the online buzz experience was too fascinating to ignore. On Twitter alone, Starbucks spiked to the most-searched item – and it’s easy to understand why. No doubt, the buzz was much the same on other social networks like Facebook that even included sponsored ads.

From Web 2.0 – Real Food. Simply Delicious

What’s happening to all the classic principles: awareness, branding, unique selling proposition, and call to action?

Don’t worry. The Starbucks community synergized them to nourish their brand and community experience for a few hours on a Tuesday morning — in store, online, and on mobile phones.

What remains is robust awareness and demonstrated loyalty now filtering through a community of shared experience. That’s the magnet we keep hearing about. What’s most interesting is that the interest levels vary, and that’s okay. The community voluntarily shores up the engagement of the somewhat interested. The mildly interested (or aware) are content to stand by, tweet, or mumble, “I still don’t like the taste of Starbucks coffee.”

That’s the 90-9-1 rule of social media.

Described as Participation Inequality (Jakob Nielsen), the overwhelming majority simply watch, 9 percent contribute, while 1 percent actually creates. (Thanks Twitter colleague @mselissen for documenting the source!) Interesting.

Where does that put me? Since I first saw the p.s. and was engaged enough to blog about the whole thing, I’m somewhere between the 1 and 9%. In addition, I could have clicked through, printed the invitation and entered a brick-and-mortar Starbucks. My individual participation — direct or indirect — created value. The campaign and the headline, Real Food. Simply Delicious, pulsed steadily as a subtext.

Conclusion: Disintermediation no longer works

The multichannel, integrated marketing of the ’90s focused on disintermediation (see buzz glossary tab). It’s sword-like precision of capturing and holding attention exclusively may have worked for boomers, but not for Net Gen. These pro-active consumers are teaching us all about a new category of engagement, measurable response, and awareness.

Yes, we know all this strategically as marketers, in our silos of billable expertise. Sometimes, however, it’s good to pause and record the whoosh of the tribe and the experience.

Remember, while the Starbucks buzz was going a clutter of 9 to 15 thousand ad messages slumped by unnoticed. (Figuring daily ad exposure of 3 to 5 thousand messages, 3 days total.)

Which leaves a question: What’s next, Starbucks?

What opinions, tweets, or experience would you like to add?

  • Were you standing online? Did you print and use your coupon or go by cell? Your comments are welcome?
  • How would you describe experience:
  • as a marketer, and/or
  • as a consumer?

P.S. The strawberry magnets are the property of Flickr pro Tizzalicious. All rights reserved.

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