“You Get What You Pay For” Is The Wrong Argument For Starbucks

Ad Age is showing a preview of what’s to come from Starbucks and BBDO/New York. Clearly, Starbucks has McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts in their rear view mirror.
“We have more traditional mass marketers coming into the coffee category and trying to commoditize it,” Starbucks Chief Marketing Officer Terry Davenport said. “It’s just taking brewed coffee and lattes down to a commodity level, where price is the only thing that matters.”
It’s funny that Davenport would use the commodity word, since that’s exactly what Starbucks did the neighborhood coffee shop. For that reason, and for the fact that they over-roast their beans, no true fan of coffee is going to willingly shop at Starbucks, or say nice things about the brand.
If I was advising Starbucks’s brand team, I’d tell them to look up, not down. Create a connoisseurs’ roast that’s not burnt and work hard to win fans among the coffee cognescenti. Doing do would generate positive WOM that could impact other customers, the press and Starbucks employees.



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.