Ad Age had a poll this week on whether Starbucks should begin running national TV ads. (56% said yes/44% said no. Seems we're not quite sure if it's a good idea or not.) The text around the poll reported that "the company is hitting what appears to be a saturation point in the US, and is responding with national media." Some analysts say they should do this, while others say they shouldn't.
This survey triggered two thoughts for me...
Thought #1: How can someone seriously answer the national TV ad question?
Analyzing media for the sake of media is kind of a waste of time. The magic of creativity today is the marriage of execution with delivery. Long gone are the days of building the media plan and then running it down to the creative department, and, like a shopping list at the grocery store, check off everything that's needed. With so many media tools today, we can truly take an average idea and turn it into an incredible idea if the right media vehicle is chosen; that's what leads to maximum ROI.
Therefore, a more interesting and useful question to quantify for our industry could have been: "Should a company like Starbucks invest heavily in domestic mass media?" Thinking about this brings me to my second thought...
I once read that the average Starbucks customer in the US visits a store 17 times a month. Incredible! In fact, that volume of customer interaction changes the entire role of mass media. But I bring this up because it reminds me of a great client I used to work with: Tillamook Cheese.
Tillamook is based out of Tillamook, Oregon. They make an amazing cheese, naturally aged with only the best stuff. As a Northwest company, their market share was so large in Portland and Seattle that they didn't really run mass media there. What they needed in those markets were one-on-one touchpoints: in-store, pr and guerrilla--things that added personal dimensions. This allowed them to do a better job in far off markets, where the brand wasn't so well known.
I think Tillamook's ownership of the Northwest is equivalent to Starbucks in America. It would seem to me that, as an analyst, I wouldn't want Starbucks to put more dollars into mass media domestically. We know what Starbucks is and what its products are. If they launch something new, chances are one-on-one communication and p.o.s. will alert people. Seems to make the most sense to invest in far off lands where there's not millions of people experiencing the brand 17 times a month.
As an industry, when a brand like Starbucks is on the table, I believe we must start framing our surveys and questions in a global context. I'm a bit surprised this hasn't started happening yet. Our thinking of global comes in the form of "special global reports" or "global divisions." It seems we must mentally prepare ourselves beforehand and get into a global mindset prior to studying the issue. It's like Tee Ball: "Okay, get ready to think global... now 'hit'".
Should Starbucks run TV in the US? It depends on the creative.
Should Starbucks invest in mass media in the US? Depends on if they have all the resources they need globally.