retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Starbucks isn embarking on a new brand advertising campaign, but it isn't focusing on the products that it sells. Rather, the video campaign - which can be seen in a 60-second version on television, and an almost six-minute version online (at left), is designed to focus on the coffee chain's "third place" origins - the place that, other than home and work, people go to for a wide variety of reasons.

What makes this commercial an Eye-Opener is the audacity of the concept - it was shot all in one day, in 59 different stores in 28 countries by a total of 39 local filmmakers. This team shot more than 200 hours of footage, with an agency called 72andSunny coordinating the shoots and assembling the footage into a cohesive package.

There are some suggesting that this is Starbucks being a little desperate, that it needs to prove that it is still cool and relevant. But while I think Starbucks wants to demonstrate a continued relevance to a broad swath of the culture, there is nothing in this ad that strikes me as desperate in any way.

Remember that interview a few months ago in which former Apple Store head Ron Johnson said that those stores succeeded because they achieved an unusual level of brand intimacy with consumers? Well, I think that's exactly what's going on here … and rather that indulging in hyperbole, this strikes me as a pretty fair representation of some of what I've seen over the years in Starbucks stores all over the globe.

Here's a basic reality. Even in the heights of the recent recession, if you went into a mall, there were only two stores that you could count on to be busy - Starbucks and The Apple Store.

That's my definition of an Eye-Opener.

KC's View: