Starbucks wants to unify its marketing messaging with 2015 #RedCups campaign

Starbucks has launched its “most joined up” Christmas Red Cup marketing push to date with a campaign that aims to unify instore, online, experiential and press activity.

The campaign kicked off today (3 November) with a socially powered light installation in Kings Cross Station, created by Manning Gottlieb OMD, which until 6 November will gradually light up as the number of #RedCups mentions on social media increases. Tweets pulled through from the #RedCups will also feature across digital display boards throughout the station.

The channel-wide campaign looks to build on the buzz around the return of the company’s Christmas drinks and improve on previous activity, Starbuck’s marketing director for the UK, Steve Flanagan, told The Drum.

“This is a massive campaign for us, we’ve done red cups sine 1997 so it’s very well established,” he said. “It’s got a lot of buzz and excitement attached to it so it’s very important.”

“The campaign is probably a move on from what we’ve done in previous years. We always challenge ourselves to try and go one better every year, and we certainly haven’t done anything like this...This year we have a very well joined up plan across all of our different media channels, whether press and publishing or online or in stores it’s very well joined up, more than we have done in the past.”

The activity includes a cover wrap with today’s Time Out and activity in the Metro, across social channels and partnership with Red magazine, which sees a Starbucks card on the front of each magazine.

Starbucks is also one of the first brands to use Twitter’s ‘hashflag’ functionally – essentially a branded emoji – which will see a Red Cup appear each time #RedCups is tweeted out.

Outside of the Christmas buzz Starbucks is seeing positive results from the UK launch of its Mobile Order & Pay’ feature in September. Currently in a select number of stores Flanagan said the coffee chain will eventually extend mobile ordering capabilities across the UK in phases.

“It’s working really, really well for us and we are seeing some really good pick up particularly in the city stores,” he revealed. “So places like Fleet Street is the best performing store with 80 transactions on Mobile Order & Pay per day which is incredible.

“The plan is to take that nationally and we are phasing that to make sure that we get it right but absolutely the plan is to take that much broader. We will take the same approach as the US and scale it up.”

While some specific Mobile Order & Pay activity ran in the media during the London launch, future campaigns will see that messaging “wrapped in” and become part of any activity. “The campaigns become the vehicle that we talk about Mobile Order & Pay,” added Flanagan.

Another new initiative in the UK for Starbucks is the introduction of an evening food menu and addition of wine and beer to its coffee menu. Currently only available in Stansted Airport, Euston station, Edinburgh Airport and an experiential store in London, the revamped offering will eventually be rolled out in other locations as appropriate.

So as Starbucks continues to evolve its offering through a variety of channels, will this change the brand and how it is marketed?

“We will always be about coffee first so it won’t change what the brand is about we are just responding to where our consumers are and what they want from us as a brand,” said Flanagan. “So I don’t think it will change who or what we are as a brand but it’s about offering something to our customers at a different day part. We will always be a coffee shop first and foremost.”

The Red Cups campaign will run until New Year’s Day.

Natalie Mortimer

Natalie is The Drum's fashion, design, luxury and food & drink reporter.

Tweet her @nataliemortimer

All by Natalie