I was on my way to work and was reading the metro as per usual. Mid paper I stumbled accross this full spread advertisement for Starbucks. I presume it’s being ran to launch the new logo, and I decided very quickly that it was a pretty lovely advert. Upon reflection however, I realise I might not actually like it. Take a look.
Let’s start at the obvious. The art direction is great! It really encapsulates what I imagine would be a working lunch in a Starbucks cafe, shop, place, whatever it is they want to be called. It’s just a pity that I’ll never actually do something like that, because I actually like real food for lunch. The art direction also lends itself nicely to an awesome game of ‘spot the hipster’; iPhone – check, iPod – check, retro camera – check, old dog earred paperback – check, homemade diaries – check, bad sunglasses – check, crossword puzzles – check, and finally, red velvet cupcakes – check. This ad is going to appeal to every one who actually enjoys sitting in a Starbucks. It’s aim is not to bring in new customers, but to remind their own loyal customers that they haven’t had a caffeine fix lately. More importantly, to remind them that they haven’t discussed politics, art or religion really loudly and with no sense, over an over priced cup of joe. It’s littered with a few cliches, but the shot is very well put together.
The best thing about the ad is the copywriting. The world has a pause button. What I like about that, is I’m reading a newspaper (world news, thanks metro, thetro) and then I’m literally brought to a pause by this advert. It works in two ways, making you realise that the ‘world’, i.e the world news, is waiting while you’re taking in this advert, and secondly, that your actual ‘world’ sometimes needs to be paused so you can just sit down, have a drink, and shoot the shit with your pals. It’s quite cute really. Don’t get me started on ‘You & Starbucks, it’s bigger than coffee’ though. That’s a really bad, trying to be self reassuring line of twaddle. Obviously, the aim is to create a relationship between the consumer, the joy of drinking coffee, and the Starbucks chain. I mean, don’t you know you can’t have a jolly good laugh over a cup of coffee in any other reputable coffee shop? Of course you can’t! Starbucks only you absolute idiots! Well done Mr.Copywriter, you’ve only gone and bloody ruined it.
It’s strange really, I was content on writing an entry about how much I enjoyed this advertisement when I first saw it, but upon a quick review, I have realised it’s doing something I promised myself never to do. It’s advertising nothing! Sure, the line is great, and the art direction is lovely, but what are we actually being sold? We’re being sold a lifestyle by a coffee shop. We’re being sold the premise, that if we drink in their chain of coffee shops over others, we’re going to be happy, have lots of friends, and buy popular products that will make us popular with popular people. It’s all a bit naff really. I mean, I can survive without Starbucks that’s very much, and the relationship between me and their brand is definitely not bigger than coffee, I don’t even like the stuff. But then again, I suppose I’m not the target audience am I? This ad isn’t aimed at me, and it only made me stop and look because I have trained myself to look at adverts, and then pick to apart to find out if they work or not.
My girlfriend has decided to give up Starbucks for lent. She’s the target audience. I’m going to show it to her now and see what the outcome is… I was correct, I’m definitely not the target audience! “It’s selling the idea of what coffee with friends is like” – Lovely quote, thanks Victoria! It’s doing exactly that as I’ve already mentioned. Selling the idea of a product, rather than selling the product itself. “Starbucks is bigger than coffee. When you walk down the street with a starbucks mug, it’s like a status symbol” – Again, another belter! It is a status symbol, as are the iPod, iPhone and Holga camera. Again, selling lifestyles rather than the product. Clever ad men, they’ve got us all hook, line and sinker!
This advert is definitely not for a new audience. This is not about opening a new relationship with a wary consumer. The whole idea behind this ad is to re-engage with existing customers who may have fled the nest for a cheaper (and maybe less tasty) cup of coffee. Starbucks are selling us a lifestyle, and a popular lifestyle at that. Everyone wants to be able to buy expensive coffee, sit with friends, bitch, and chat about nothing. Friends are awesome, and apparently Starbucks can make you even closer. It’s a clever position taken by Starbucks, and one that will do quite well.
I still can’t decide if I love this ad, or if I absolutely despise it. The idea is painfully obvious to someone who looks at ideas for a living, and it’s also obvious to the more intelligent of people, but if you’re an average member of the public who treats Starbucks as a guilty pleasure, this ad will probably make you remember how much you love Starbucks! I can be pretty sure that when that person next sees that lobster clawed woman in a green circle, they’re going to nip inside, read a book, and enjoy a decent cup of Coffee, in the warm, cuddly arms of Starbucks. Because after all, them and Starbucks? Yeah, that’s right, it’s bigger than coffee.