- Starbucks last week introduced this year's holiday coffee cups in a campaign that includes social media promotions and a giveaway of limited-edition reusable red cups that say, "Merry Coffee." The coffee chain plans to engage users of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in online conversations throughout the holiday season, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- The holiday campaign includes digital display banners on desktop and mobile platforms aimed at urging customers to place an order through the chain's mobile app. Starbucks also is running six- and 15-second spots on TV and digital video platforms to promote its seasonal beverages.
- As part of the holiday-themed promotion, Alaska Airlines offered passengers who had the new cups priority boarding on flights Nov. 7-10. The airline also placed Starbucks treats on the seats of select flights, according to a company blog post.
Starbucks has made an annual tradition of its holiday-themed cups, and this year's promotion includes a greater emphasis on mobile, with social media plans and digital ads aimed at driving orders through the app. The coffee chain's app has been the leading mobile payment platform in the U.S. for years, although eMarketer recently forecast that Apple Pay will overtake Starbucks this year as the most popular method of point-of-sale payments. The researcher predicts that Apple Pay will end the year with 30.3 million U.S. users, compared with 25.2 million for the Starbucks payment app. By ramping up promotions around its app this holiday season, Starbucks could encourage more people to download and pay through the platform even after the end-of-year holidays and into 2020.
Starbucks' holiday promotion is again stirring controversy by not mentioning "Christmas" to be as inclusive as possible. In 2015, Starbucks released a plain red coffee cup with no designs, generating some backlash among consumers who accused the company of participating in the "war on Christmas." This year won't be an exception, with several Twitter users mocking Starbucks' holiday-themed cups whose design consists of traditional Christmas colors but avoids mentioning the phrase, "Merry Christmas," MarketWatch reported.
The holiday campaign follows an early jump on this year's pumpkin spice drinks to usher in fall. The coffee chain was the biggest spender on pumpkin spice-themed ads as of Oct. 1 with a campaign that started in late August, per a study that Numerator shared with Marketing Dive, Mobile Marketer's sister publication. Twenty percent of Starbucks customers are aware of seasonal drinks such as Pumpkin Spice Lattes, while 90% recognized the "pumpkin spice" name in some variation, per the research.