Starbucks’ New Instant Coffee Ad: Love it or Hate it?

In an earlier blog post, I cautioned against ad campaigns that were too trendy or topical, but Starbucks’ new “Via” TV ad is an edgy, hilarious example of why it’s sometimes okay to buck convention. In addition to promoting their new instant coffee, Starbucks takes on a touchy (and waaaay timely) subject: town hall meetings.

If you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here.

Personally, I love it. I think Starbucks took a bit of a risk, and I think they struck the right balance of social criticism and goofy humor. Unsurprisingly, I’ve also seen some negative buzz from viewers who didn’t see it that way: Some feel that by spoofing modern political discourse, the coffee retailer went too far.

What do you think? Did Starbucks cross a line that shouldn’t be crossed? Or is this a great example of edgy, up-to-the-minute advertising?

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Astroturfing: The Icky Side of Social Media Marketing

It’s disingenuous. It’s dishonest. And, it’s everywhere.

It’s called “astroturfing”. Chances are, you’ve been exposed to it. And, if the folks behind it have done their jobs right, the chances are pretty good that you didn’t even know it.

Social media is powerful stuff. In its most basic form, it’s the high-tech equivalent of your best friend recommending Gap jeans or your next-door neighbor telling you that she never shops at XYZ grocery store anymore because the cashiers are rude.
The truth is, we’re all influenced by what our friends think. Most of us buy books or see films based on the recommendations of friends we trust. We’re probably more likely to try a new restaurant if a few people from work say the food’s good. And yes, if everybody jumped off a bridge . . .

Well, we’d probably at least think about it for a second.

But imagine if your friend was getting kickbacks from the Gap. If every time she plugged her favorite jeans, she got fifty bucks. Or if your neighbor was getting free groceries from XYZ grocery store’s competitors whenever she badmouthed the competition.

Ick, right?

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