Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Are You In With Starbucks Free Coffee Call For National Service?

Minutes ago I was doing the secret behind my flexible, youthful body, that being yoga on a big inflated ball. I listen to the radio while I do this.

There was a new Starbucks ad that struck me as, well, wrong. While seeming to be altruistic.

The Starbucks ad said Starbucks was getting behind President Obama's Inaugural Speech call for community service by joining forces with something called HandsOn Network.

Starbucks is suggesting the good citizens of America answer their new President's call for service by giving up 5 hours a week to community service.

And, if you do your 5 hours between Wednesday, January 21, as in today, and Sunday, January 25, Starbucks will reward your good service by giving you one free cup of coffee. Not a Frappaccino, not a Mocha, not any of those other fancy coffee drinks Starbucks sells, that I've seldom bought, even though I'm from the coffee mad Seattle zone.

Directly from Starbucks...

How to Participate at Your Local Starbucks

Visit Starbucks:
You can join the “I’m In” campaign, part of the Starbucks™ Shared Planet™ commitment to community involvement, when visiting a local participating Starbucks beginning Wednesday, Jan. 21 (and continuing through Sunday, Jan. 25). Stop by the “I’m In” display featuring community pledge cards, pick up the card, and fill it out with your five-hour commitment to volunteer.

Pledge Five:
Place the “I’m In” sticker from the pledge card on your lapel, signifying your pledge, and take the card with you as a reminder to keep the effort going. As a thank you, each customer who pledges five hours of their own time will receive a complimentary tall cup of brewed coffee.

Track Success:
Customers can log on to to record pledge hours, find local volunteer opportunities via the HandsOn Network, track hours pledged-to-date, and receive updates on the campaign."

I don't know, maybe this is Starbucks doing a good thing. But something about it struck me as sort of a cheesy marketing ploy. I think if the ad had simply said Starbucks had allied itself with the HandsOn Network and were encouraging people to volunteer, suggesting people go to Starbucks' website for info on how to volunteer. And not had the free cup of coffee thing if you do your 5 hours in the next 5 days, then it would have seemed like a totally altruistic thing.

Or if Starbucks pledged some monetary donation to some good cause for every 5 hours of community service, that would have seemed like a good thing.

But the idea of doing 5 hours of community service and going into a Starbucks to get a cup of coffee for free, well, I might do the 5 hours, but I wouldn't bother with the coffee.

I remember years ago, Burger King had a promotion where you got a free Whooper if you'd go to the counter and say "Whopper beat the Big Mac." I was able to get myself to do this once. But something about it was embarrassing to me. Even though I actually do think the Whopper beats the Big Mac.

Now, I'm off to do 5 hours of community service so I can get a cup of coffee...

1 comment:

De Wet Snyders said...

Hi, I quite agree with you on most of your points except for the fact that you are going to do 5 hours of community work. So is corporate americas' cup of coffee for free actually doing 2 things. 1. Increase traffic, 2 increase brand association to americans 3. getting 5 hours of community service out of somebody who would not have done it otherwise. Seems like a win to me