Love 'em or hate 'em, I have to admit Starbucks is an amazing brand. They invented the "experiential marketing" model, and their success story is mandatory study for MBA students. But their new ad campaign, called "Value & Values," is a huge misstep. I call shenanigans.
To kick off the campaign, and in a lame attempt to get some free buzz from "social media," they released this painfully uncomfortable YouTube video starring Howard Schultz, the chairman and CEO of Starbucks, and a bunch of
clueless 19 year old baristas "Starbucks Partners." The group sits at a table covered with the new ads, and spouts a pile of "Brand Language 101" tripe. It's an embarrassing waste of money. Also? The ads are ugly, dumb, and boring.
This campaign cost millions and natters on about values. You know what I value, and what other eco-conscious people (i.e. most of the world) value? Environmental responsibility. Leadership. Corporations putting their money to work where it can do some good.
I'm willing to believe they have good intentions. In fact, Starbucks does some things well, like giving benefits to part-time employees. On the other hand, their green record is terrible.
As incomprehensible as it sounds, many Starbucks stores don't have recycling! And I've written many times that they need to do something about the 2.3 billion non-recyclable hot cups that go from Starbucks stores to landfill every year.
Peets has had compostable cups since 2007, but Starbucks says they can't put a recyclable cup in the hands of their customers until 2015. That is outrageous! With their buying power -- if they wanted to -- Starbucks could have a compostable cup in stores this year.
Starbucks can get away with running a braggy campaign about how much "heart" they pour into every (Earth-killing) cup as soon as they use their heft to become leaders in sustainable "to go" innovation. Until then, their coffee is too expensive, their cups suck, and their ad campaign is a shitty pile of marketing lies.
And yes, since he mentioned it, I'll be delighted to email, blog, twitter and share my low opinion of them to everyone I know. Good idea Mr. Schultz!