Thursday, April 20, 2006

Jaffe Calls Starbucks on "Akeelah"

There' s a great post this AM over at JaffeJuice, calling Starbucks on their big promotion of the movie "Akeelah and the Bee". His point is that, while the movie is littered all over the stores, the baristas don't seem to have a good sense of what the movie is about. Additionally, there don't seem to be much deeper integration between the movie and the Starbucks experience.

Of course, the question that needs to be asked is: so what? Why should employees be expected to participate in this campaign? Consider the analog--if the movie producers decided to buy up a ton of space in People magazine, should all the writers, editors and designers be expected to know about the film and be able to discuss it? Should they do so as a a part of their job?

Clearly not. In fact, we'd probably feel a little itchy if the People writer crossed the journalism-ethics line and pitched in with the pitching of the movie. Writers are just as much a part of a brand experience as a barista, though.

But the nature of the experience is different. In fact, Starbucks is an experience (People is a product). The magazine appraoch is a media buy. It seems that the Akeelah approach is also a media buy (albeit a unique one, with Starbucks being the actual producer of the film). We don't want to see experiential marketing acting like a media buy. If it does, its a let down.

People aren't media, is the message here. People are people, and they operate best when they are treated as such. Surely Akeelah is a success right now. I am not too tuned into movies and my awareness for this oddly named and spelled film is through the roof. But is it executed correctly? I'm with JJ: not quite.
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