So this is how advertising works:

  1. Half listen to ads on commute radio, trying to dodge early morning traffic jams.
  2. Go about your business, feel like you’ve done a good day’s work, think about taking a break, see a familiar sign and pull over.
  3. Walk towards door, notice new posters in yellows and browns, think “Nice”.
  4. Inside see friendly, calming green being sported by the employees, think “That’s new”.
  5. Scan the blackboard for what’s on offer and see new beverage, think “Hhhm, might try that”.
  6. New beverage arrives in very own branded cup (“made with 45% fewer carbon emissions”).
  7. Put two and two together and realise I’ve been Starbucked.

I don’t really mind, because I believe good marketing deserves its rewards. Rolling out a new product and not supporting it with all you’ve got would be wasting the only opportunity to make a good first impression. Whether the new Vivanno smoothie will fill the gap of hot sandwiches over the lunch hour remains to be seen. Touted as healthy, we all know it contains ingredients far too addictive for that, especially if you add a shot of espresso as I did. On top of which, I’d like to see how they get “one whole banana” in each of these little sample cups grass-skirted baristas were handing out yesterday!

Did you hear the one about the Bob who stood at the pearly gates and admitted he hadn’t called before he dug? Bob also hits a fine ball on the green and knows the easy way to buy office stationary. Bob’s an expert eco-friendly investor, an authority on long-distance calls, and works part-time as an accountant. Busy guy, our palindrome friend. Or is he an acronym?  

As busy as the copywriter behind all of these radio commercials? Or are you telling me there’s some sort of secret Bob contract that ALL copywriters in every Canadian ad shop have to sign up to? Whatever their intention, by blending the name of every character in every ad, from insurance choices to the right sports brand, into a patchwork Bob, they are distracting from the product or service they are supposed to be promoting. Our Bob brand may have started as a bit of a bet around the coffee pot (highest Bob score in any given commercial break wins), but it appears the tables are turning. A few cases of inverse distraction to pay homage to your regular Bob on the street and what happens? Clients start insisting on hiring the infamous Bob to star in their 30” radio spots. 

Inevitably all the bobbing around is leaving the paying brands high and dry. Whatever will they do next to not make their marque stand out from the crowd?

The new season of red products at Starbucks no longer portray both US and Canadian $ prices. Smart move, that. Here’s another move: 

When I saw – for the first time – outdoor advertising for Starbucks last year (seasonal beverages in Vancouver), I was surprised that the marketers at the green mermaid had shifted their mix to pedestrian advertising. At the time I guessed it was a local, cultural thing, and parked it for future reference. Now, however, a blitz of seasonal TV ads is about to hit national screens, initially in the US. Wieden & Kennedy, the agency that transported those other west coast Americana brands Nike and Microsoft around the world, is tasked with developing a global brand message for the red cup parade. As quoted in today’s Advertising Age, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz feels the whole advertising thing is a natural evolution to gain increased leverage. Oh well then. Certainly as the brand reaches maturity, markets saturate, share prices fall and competitors step in to cross the chasm, Starbucks feels the heat to reinvent itself, its offering, or its target audience. Does this herald a mermaid branded burger? 

Personally I feel that Starbucks would be well advised to offer free wifi in its stores. This may not induce users to double up on their caffeine intake, but it would certainly fill the seats and send out the signal to open another Starbucks just over the road.