Starbucks Staff Not Spelling It Out For Us

Starbucks is co-producing a Hollywood film that has nothing to do with coffee.
Last January, Associated Press reported that Starbucks employees will wear lanyards with “Akeelah” buzz words during the month of April in the hope of sparking conversations about the movie, billed as the story of an 11-year-old girl from inner-city Los Angeles who makes it to a national spelling bee.
It’s now April and the Starbucks near me is indeed covered in Akeelah and the Bee point-of-sale. In fact, I looked around to see if I might purchase the magnetic words I saw displayed in a kit. I could not.
Joseph Jaffe also noticed the disconnect and does not like it.

Bottom line is that there is no activation; no integration; no extension going on….why are baristas not quizzing random customers to spell a word and if they get it right, they get a free coffee. Where’s the board game or the table-top conversation starters? Where’s the pamphlet that tells consumers why Starbucks is in the movie business or what values are being tapped into in the process?

Why is Starbucks promoting this film? It’s part of their quest to be an entertainment company, no doubt. The thinking is right, but the execution needs work.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.