Blog: Roasting Starbucks’ 12 Days of Gifting
By Joe DeSetto, Emerging Payments Blogger
In the acclaimed television series Mad Men, an average copywriter named Harry Crane invents a role as his agency’s new Head of Television. In this fictional retro world, the old guard that runs the agency in the early 1960s has no idea of the importance of this new broadcast format or how it will completely change brands, marketing and how we relate to our world. They give him the promotion without a second thought.
If Harry Crane were real and alive at a top agency on Madison Avenue today, he would ask to be the Head of Mobile. As 2012 comes to a close, even brands we regard as ahead of the curve, enlightened and leading the way into the new mobile age have serious bouts of confusion about what mobile can offer and how to capture this titanic shift in our culture.
|“If Harry Crane were real and alive at a top agency on Madison Avenue today, he would ask to be the Head of Mobile.”
—Joe DeSetto, Emerging Payments Blogger
One festive example to brighten the holidays is Starbucks’ new campaign “The 12 Days of Gifting.” Starbucks has been mentioned often in this blog as a leader in mobile payments. Its app was one of the first from a major retailer when the original iPhone launched, and its partnership with Square this year shows Starbucks is serious about staying ahead in mobile user experience and data mining.
12 Days Misses Mark
Upon opening the Starbucks app to locate a Starbucks this weekend, the Messages tab indicated I had two new items to read. Because Starbucks has a long-standing partnership with Apple to give away a free song download each week, I always read these messages. Generally, this five-second brand interaction results in free music and pays off for Starbucks because I stay engaged and continue using the app.
The holiday message, however, was strange in that it expected me to create an entirely new communication channel with the brand. The 12 Days of Gifting offered two options—SMS updates and a URL that was not a hyperlink. This means, of course, that inside the current gold standard of global retail brand apps was a vague attempt to explain that unnamed holiday discounts were available through other channels—but not in the mobile app.
Why would I use text alerts when I already have an established, frequently used and simple way to receive communications from the brand—the Messages tab in the app? Beyond that, the method of delivery requires me to remember exactly what to type in to my SMS client when I leave the app. No button to tap to subscribe. No prewritten message, so I could just tap Send. Instead I got a cryptic instruction, like “Text some word to some shortcode or remember this long URL and type it into Mobile Safari.”
In my mobile Web browser, I checked out the promotion separately at rekindle.starbucks.com and it got worse. To join this promotion, I needed to connect to Facebook. For 30 percent off a coffee mug (Day 10) I’m now expected to either subscribe to text messages or add Starbucks brand communications to my overvalued post-IPO Facebook news feed.
Clearly, this is a promotion from the old—or at least aging—guard of social media marketing gurus who value obscure metrics like cross-channel conversions over the simple truth of mobile apps. I already have the brand, its messages and the ability to buy things from it in my hand. I don’t need a Facebook account for that. Nor do I see any value in yet another text message. I have a mobile app and use it frequently.
If the brand simply offered 30 percent off a product right in the app, I might have opened the app 12 days in a row. I might even have done something radical like bought an item right in the app to pick up the next time I grab a pound of Guatemala Antigua. Purchases of items featured by12 Days, despite being a Square partner and a leader in the space, was another option that was also nowhere to be found.
If Harry Crane started working on next year’s campaign, he would need to understand that the12 Days of Gifting must account for a world changed by mobile, just as television changed print advertising many holidays ago.
Joseph DeSetto is Paybefore’s emerging payments blogger and program manager of the Mobile Development Bachelor of Science degree at Full Sail University. He is the author of The Business of Design and previously served as chief technology officer for two mobile startups. If you’d like to comment on this blog post, please join the conversation on our Paybefore LinkedIn Group.
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