21 June, 2006

Best. Gimmick. Ever.

So I decided, by some random chance, to stop at Starbucks this morning on the way to work. I needed something in my stomach, I wanted some coffee, and I didn't want cheap quickie mart coffee. So I end up in the drive thru. It's a few minutes' wait -- they're usually pretty busy in the morning. As I pull up and order my drink, I see the girl at the window talking more than usual to the lady ahead of me, and making a few hand gestures. I also overhear something about "It's been going on all morning". At this point I'm thinking maybe they are having some issues with debit card purchases. I hope not. But then the girl takes the lady's debit card, swipes it, hands her a receipt. Okay, cool. My turn.

I pull up, to a happy, smiling girl at the window. Kinda cute too.
She leans out and strikes up a bit of a conversation. Here's what I remember of it:
Her: Hi! Are you having a good morning?
Me: Why yes, I am!
Her: Well, I think your morning is about to get a lot better. The lady ahead of you just paid for your drink!
Me: (head spinning with confusion) Really!?
Her: Yeah, one person started it earlier today and it's been going on like that all morning! (*click* gears grinding in my head with realization of what's going on)
Her: So what you can do now is, you can take your drink for free, or you can pay for the person behind you and keep this going!

Now, at this point I'm thinking... hmmm, well, mine was $7.95 for a quad venti white mocha and coffee crumb cake. The lady ahead of me had what looked like a venti drink of some kind and a small one for her daughter in the seat beside her. Probably about the same price as mine, possible a dollar or so less. There are 2 girls in an SUV behind me. I wonder what they ordered. Well, probably just 2 light drinks. Why the hell not. It's a gamble, but sure, I'm game.

Me: Sure, I'll keep this going, why not.
Her: Great! Just let me swipe your card .... here's your receipt ... ($10.95 -- not bad) ... and here's your coffee crumb cake and mocha.
Her: Also, I've been giving these cards out to people for doing such a good job. With this, you can get any size free of our new drink. (*click* again)
Thank you very much! Have a wonderful day!
Me: Thank you, you too!

After which I proceed to drive off. Then I pull out, and wait at a stop light to drive off. As I'm sitting there, I decide to read the card she gave me. It reads:
Spread Summer Sunshine

Somebody's going to do something nice for you today. Maybe they'll
let you go first in the register line. Maybe they'll give you some
change so you don't have to break a twenty. Or maybe they'll just hold the door for you when your hands are full.

Whatever the nice thing turns out to be, return the favor by giving that anonymous benefactor this card. You'll both find a little karma
goes a long way.

This card is good for a Banana Coconut
or Bananas & Creme Frappuccino blended beverage.

So that's what this is all about. A fancy gimmick to advertise their new drink. But damn, what a hell of a gimmick. Seriously! It makes the person happier because the person ahead of them paid for their drink, and it makes them feel better about themselves and like they did a good deed by paying for the person behind them. Plus they promote the drink by handing out the card, and encourage you to promote it by what's written inside. And the great part is, you actually feel compelled to hand it to somebody else because of the way it was given to you! I can't believe this... whoever came up with this idea is a GENIUS!

But the one big question that's been nagging at me is this: What about those people who drop 40 or 50 dollars, buying coffee for the people at the office? Do they sucker some poor sap buying a $4 coffee into paying that bill? How the hell do they handle that situation? Surely the person with the $50 bill would never believe that the person ahead paid their whole bill. How would they pass off that it was a continuing chain in that case?

Oh well, either way it's a great idea. Kudos, Starbucks! You definitely made my morning better!

No comments: