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Starbucks Shared Planet on Tropical Tuesday Produces Mixed Messages
By: Cindy Wendland
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On Cinco de Mayo, before our meeting at the Mexican restaurant, we spent some time working at Starbucks. Turns out they were celebrating as well. They were celebrating Tropical Tuesday during their happy hour promotion from May 1–10. Our normal routine upon entering Starbucks is to visit the bathroom, place our order, then find a comfy spot to work. This Starbucks experience produced mixed messages that surprised us.

Bathroom advertising is intriguing. Should a business intrude on some private business being attended to? Some public places do it well and promote their bands or events on the interior bathroom stall door. Some places, like Starbucks, promote their sustainability and responsibility program on their hand dryers. That impressed us enough to research “Shared Planet.” Shared Planet is a great name that evokes the message that we are all responsible for this planet and our actions can be good or bad for the future. Starbucks Shared Planet is their commitment to do business in ways that are good for people and the planet. That is admirable. So coming out of the bathroom, we had a good feeling coursing through our veins about Starbucks.

We ordered our drink and inquired as to why the staff was wearing tropical shirts. Turns out it was Tropical Tuesday. OK; it’s fun to have themes. Seems a little odd for Starbucks, but OK, fun is fun. Then we picked our cozy spot to work and found some odd decorations with handwritten messages. This just didn’t seem Starbuck-ish. Now we were wondering if this was a franchise or where the corporate breakdown occurred. We double checked our location and confirmed we were not yet at the Mexican restaurant. Hmmm. Our admiration had turned to disenchantment. 

We like consistency. We like strong branding. We were disappointed. Turns out small details can enhance or detract from a positive experience; an important lesson to keep in mind.

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About the Author
Cindy Wendland has a background in marketing and finance. She is the creative director for an online men's health magazine, BrainBrawnBody.com, and she gets to write their leisure/travel blog. She is also a web designer helping her clients with online community engagement, websitesbywendland.com. Prior to her web years, she worked in pharmacy consulting.
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