Campfire Confessions Vol 1:1, Starbucks, Breakin’ All Their Brand Rules

This is the debut edition of Campfire Confessions — your weekly dose of fails and flops from fellow marketers.

Why are we telling these stories?

? You can learn a lot from mistakes (but preferably not your own)

? To reassure you that even the biggest brands don’t nail their messaging every time

? Because let’s be honest, we all secretly love a good fail story (#sorrynotsorry)

For this first edition we’re going big — or rather, Venti.

I’m talking about when Starbucks launched their new, “subtly-sweet” Blonde espresso early last year.

Now, I’m sure Starbucks did their research and discovered that many of their customers were looking for a lighter, milder espresso option.

But what it looks like Starbucks forgot to do, was use those conversations with customers to shape the way they presented their Blonde espresso.

Instead, this was the messaging they came up with:

Unfortunately, the nod to the 1960’s phrase “blondes have more fun” didn’t go over so well with Starbucks customers, who appreciate the brand’s normally progressive and empathetic voice ?

Not only was it labeled as being in poor taste (pardon the pun,) but IMHO Starbucks missed out on an opportunity to speak to the real value proposition — an espresso even non-espresso drinkers would love.

Okay, that’s a wrap on this week’s Campfire Confessions. ✌️

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PPS — Have a marketing fail, fear, or oh-f#ck moment that you think our list would love? Send it our way and it could be included in a future edition of Campfire Confessions.