If you can say nothing else about the Starbucks, it’s that the corporation sure knows how to market itself.
Whether it’s an attempt to single-handedly solve racism, or to avoid political incorrectness during the holiday season, it seems as if once a year the company makes huge waves with one of its marketing decisions.
This time? The now famous Unicorn Frappuccino.
For those people who can sometimes be late to the social media meme brigade — and especially those who don’t frequent Starbucks – than the fleeting craze of the Unicorn Frappuccino likely came and went without creating the slightest disturbance in your life.
The drink was only available for five days, beginning last Wednesday. So If you wanted to run out and grab one after reading this, you’re tough out of luck.
The vibrantly colorful drink was unique for its sweet and sour taste, as well as its look — like cotton candy on steroids.
But what Starbucks keenly understood was that this drink would not just dazzle its consumers within the short time period it took them to drink it, but that they would inevitably document their colorful purchase on Instagram.
Because people love to take a breather during their hectic day, order a coffee with their name written on it, and aesthetically frame it within a photograph on their Instagram page. The Starbucks coffee photo, usually coupled with an open book, kindle or laptop, has become the trademark image of tranquility among young professionals.
Now take that vintage photo and transform that drink from a plain white cup into a tie-dyed creamy slop? Well, that’s the type of stuff that Instagram filters were made for. Starbucks knew: if you Unicorn, photos will come.
The masses saw unicorns. Starbucks saw dollar signs and endless publicity on an app that appeals directly to their target demographic.
And that they did. In a single week, the drink generated more than 180,000 hits on Instagram.
We were all used as marketing tools. And we willingly obliged.
But the popularity of the 410-calorie grande-sized drink may cause other coffeehouses to rethink their strategies. Combine a colorful drink with a mythical creature and you might very well strike gold.
The Loch Ness Latte? The Mermaid Macchiato? The Elfspresso?
For the record, I did not try the drink, as I didn’t even set foot in a Starbucks over that five-day span. But part of me sort of regrets it. I’m genuinely curious what it would have tasted like. Although by doing so, I would have immediately felt guilty.
Because while it was certainly a fun week for coffee drinkers, it was the equivalent of fraternity pledge week for baristas, who found themselves making hundreds of the complicated and messy drink per day, resulting in them leaving their coffeehouses each night looking like a Care Bear threw up on them.
I’m actually going to go ahead and trademark the Elfspresso® right now because that is totally something Starbucks would do.