I used to work a lot with folks in the advertising industry. With small independent producers, big name agencies and really smart digital delivery companies (and of course that has continued since joined Microsoft as projects need). In that game you try to be as clever as you can, create a buzz, deliver a message, do good for a brand, sell some product or whatever.
The worst case outcome is when you drive a customer away. Not leave them apathetic* or unmoved (heck, most marketing can do that) or reaching for the "skip" button on their media center.
I never thought two of the biggest marketing brands out there would succeed. Especially through such a well meaning campaign that rewarded me, the consumer, for my loyalty, required no change of behavior on my part or had any obvious downside.
As folks who know me will testify I drink quite a lot of coffee (I don't have a problem... I can admit my addiction!) and these days most of it comes from Starbucks thanks to their sheer convenience and weight of number (ah, I miss Zaraffas from Australia).
Despite working for the folks who brought you the much improved Zune 2.0 I still have my old iPod (4G ClickWheel) and despite having some issues with iTunes I still have it running on one machine for synching.
So, you'd think a campaign that gives away a free tune every day just for buying a cup of coffee has to be a winning combination wouldn't you?
At first I thought so. I continued my daily ritual and picked up the added bonus of the card and put them aside meaning to have a frenzy of downloading when the promotion finished.
That was when it hit me. Not how generous Starbucks had been. Not what a great online store iTunes was. Just how much I was spending on over-priced, variable quality coffee in jumped up fast food outlets (that keep tempting me with fattening treats).
The result of the campaign. No more loyalty to iTunes (the moment my iPod finally dies I'll get a Zune. maybe). No more loyalty to Starbucks. But I did pick up a Keurig coffee machine that delivers 10 cups for the price we were paying a day for a morning pick-me-up, so the cost of the machine should be covered pretty quickly.
Oooops! I guess that campaign didn't quite go as planned. Starbucks haven't lost me as a customer, and I don't think any less of them, but I am now more aware in a tangible fashion just how much I spend there! Ironically, thought their rival, Tullys, is one of many suppliers of the Keurig pods... Starbucks aren't. I don't know if it's a deliberate choice on their part or Keurig failing to market the product to them. Luckily we have a "pack your own" attachment so if we miss a particualr Starbucks blend we don't have to miss out - just buy the grind
* I had hoped Hugh would have a witty cartoon on the subject of apathetic marketing. I guess I'll have to ask him nicely.