(Pictured: what a "Not A Starbucks" looks like) They've done it again. On February 26, 2008, all their stores closed for a day of "training," forcing their local customers to go to the competition for at least one day if they wanted a cup of Joe.
If it improved the Starbuck product even a teeny vente I sure couldn't tell. But, as a publicity stunt, it was amazingly effective, creating buzz both online and in traditional media that would have cost billions to 'buy,' if it had even been possible.
Now, they are doing it again and once again the media is all over it. But, this time, is it something more than a play for publicity?
Unbranding, of course, started with cell phones as techies liked a specific phone and had to tear into it to get it to work with the wireless carrier they prefer. This was the first notice to big corporate brands that the market sees itself in control of your brand, not you. If you do something they don't like in terms of their values, you are toast. Brand names which spend decades creating "unique selling propositions" can lose market share overnight when that USP gets repositioned as obsolete.
Metered TV and radio ratings have meant that listeners and viewers no longer need to remember what programming they used. The emphasis is on great quality of whatever it is the user wants right now instead of brand loyalty.
What does your brand name mean to your listeners? Is it still relevant? Your position statement? Is Starbucks at the cutting edge of de-branding? Or, just another stunt?
A&O is in the business of helping radio stations get those answers before someone next door gets tons of free buzz using clever net marketing, stealing brand assets from you. We are getting our Spring 2009 Arbitron, Eastlan, BBM and Nielsen report cards right now and the results have been extremely gratifying.
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