Around 18 months ago Starbucks were in the midst of a major PR disaster, it had come out that many foreign owned companies were avoiding paying billions of pounds worth of corporation tax in the UK. Needless to say the public weren’t happy, nothing angers them more than huge multi naitonal companies who try to avoid paying what they themselves have to pay out of their much smaller pay packets. Unfortunately for Starbucks they were effectively made the face of the hate campaign towards these companies and were later left with a major PR problem so they had to come up with a solution to effectively re-brand themselves.
A couple of months later on 14th March 2012 when the storm had blown over Starbucks made their move. They re-launched themselves by stating that after the success of the ‘flat white’ coffee they had decided to add more espresso to their standard latte making it stronger to suit the UK customers more. They also said that they wanted to bring back the personal approach to making coffee again and wanted people to give their name when they ordered a coffe, this name would then be written on the side of the cup and the name called out when their coffee was made.
So their plan was on the 14th March 2012 they would offer all customers a free Latte between the hours of 8am and 9am, all the customer had to do was give their name! The scheme was successful in the sense that Starbucks gave away 2,000 free Lattes in this hour and sold 350,000 drinks overall. During the hour 25,000 tweets were sent with the hashtag #FreeStarbucks meaning there was plenty of buzz about the promotion thanks to the extensive advertising in the ‘Metro’ newspapers (a newspaper very popular with comuters in the UK). However, whilst lots of people understandably enjoyed their free drink there is no way of judging whether the campaign was truly a success as Starbucks dont release individual daily sales figures.
According to www.rumpuspr.com this campaign was a success in that people have never again mentioned Starbucks in the same breath as corporation tax again and they seemed to back to normal afterwards. They continued to revive the brand by doing up all of their stores in the UK and ensuring that they stayed at the forefront of the hugely competitive coffee franchises.