Marketing, Rain Makers & Reindeer. Starbucks Does Holidays Right.

As I arrived at class the other day I heard from a classmate about an interesting marketing ploy. Starbucks in Washington, DC is apparently paying an individual to drive around with a latte on the roof of his car (undoubtedly permanently affixed). As he drives around Dupont Circle, na??ve pedestrians and other drivers yell at him,

‘Mr., you have a coffee on your hood!’

The jolly driver emphatically responds with a big smile,

‘Yes, I know! Happy Holidays from Starbucks!’

Here is a photo of the same ploy used in San Francisco:
starbucks marketing

Hmmm cool idea, but I’m not sure about the ROI. Although, the ROMA (return on media attention) is probably what they are gunning for.

Actually, the Dupont Circle Starbucks has really been going all out. Last week they had an outdoor tent and were giving away free mini Gingerbread Lattes and Peppermint Mochas. That was nice of them!

But Starbucks’ best marketing strategy is also their most simple:

These guys ARE Holiday Spirit.
The Dupont Starbucks presents the perfect coffee-bistro microcosm of fairytale-esque Holiday spirit.

Holiday decorations and classy white lights. Christmas tunes in the background. The baristas wearing Santa hats. Lots of attractive, smiling people taking 10 minute work breaks… I swear, people are always so polite and well behaved in Starbucks around this time of the year it just amazes me. For a lot of people, my guess is that their winter Starbucks coffee break is more about the overall experience than the actual coffee. I mean really – is the coffee so good it’s worth a 5 minute walk in the cold? I doubt it.

Regardless, the marketing works. Every night when I pass by I think to myself,

‘Man, it looks so nice in there, why don’t I just step in and grab a small dark-roast.’


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