Friday, June 7, 2013

Starbucks Has No Soul

I’m not anti-Starbucks. I’m not. I’m even sitting at one as I write this. In fact, the idea for this blog came to me as I was being handed my usual: a venti non-fat, no whip Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappucino. The barista handed me my drink along with a straw in a paper wrapping which read “Not recommended for use in hot beverages.” Really? Ironic? Obvious? Soul-less. Why would I put a plastic straw into a close to boiling hot coffee beverage?

We, as writers, marketers, social media-ers spend so much time and place so much emphasis on developing a brand voice, a brand personality – what’s Starbucks? When I hear a brand’s name, I immediately (more times than not) get a picture in my head beyond that of their logo. Sometimes I even get an immediate feeling about said company.

Seattle’s Best? I picture hot scruffy guys in plaid flannel shirts. The Gap? I picture preppy colorful well-dressed men and women, the type that are perfectly put together at all times. Whole Foods? I picture a company of people that feel good about where they work and buy into the corporate culture that has been established. Chipotle? The first thought I get is how well they do social media. Naturally, my second thought is always how much I’d like a burrito with extra sour cream and their chips with a hint of citrus and the perfect amount (read: a LOT) of salt. Starbucks? Blank. I get nothing.

I run the social media for clients and spend much of the past five years developing and running the social media for one CPG brand. It was an important learning curve for me in realizing how much consumers need not only to be able to buy a great product, but how much they also need to have great people behind that product. It was important for me that our over 20,000 social media followers knew ME, the faceless person at the keyboard and many of their events, behind the brand. It got to the point where if I was oddly not responding at all hours of the day and night to tweets and Facebook questions, people would ask me by name, if I was okay…quick! Name Starbucks Chief Digital Officer! Can you? I didn’t think so. While Starbucks has almost 4,000,000 Twitter followers, he himself has less than 5000. He only follows just over 800. Please correct me if you feel I’m wrong, but to me, there’s a disconnect there.

For the sake of transparency and full disclosure, I WILL admit – I have never been a huge fan of Starbucks. While I’ve recently tweeted to Starbucks that they’ve “won me back” with their recently launched Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappucino, I often find their coffee bitter. I’ll be the first in line when Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf FINALLY opens in the Midwest.

And no, as I’d suspected, @starbucks did not respond to my tweet, nor did they take the ½ second it would have taken to hit RT.


  1. Interesting post. And cute pic!

  2. People use straws to avoid the coffee staining their teeth, even with hot coffee.