Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Can I get my Peppermint Mocha with Augmented Reality?"

Venti-sized Brand Stickiness

It's back...
Starbucks is adding a whole new dimension to their in-store experience!
From a brand that’s reached deity-like acclaim, (the arrival of its red cups each holiday season already triggers a flurry of social media activity) comes a new layer of product interaction, Augmented Reality!
Check out the promo:

It turns out Starbucks’ red holiday cups are even more magical than we had imagined!
Can’t decide if the augmented reality promo is really cool or really stupid?
Then it worked.  Still in its infancy, AR isn’t for everyone.  But you can’t deny that it’s innovative.  And while it may only provide 30 seconds of mild entertainment as you wait on your mocha to cool, it is sure to surprise and delight others.
For a company that has reached maturity in size, (I’m not kidding - literally on every corner in the Windy City) – the promo creates buzz. It sparks curiosity and will invariably get more people through the door.   
Through their interactive holiday promo, Starbucks reminds us all of their recently revised corporate vision and branding effort. Starbucks is much more than coffee.
Download the app Nov 15 (aptly called “Starbucks Cup Magic”) and check it out for yourself!

UPDATE (11/18/11): Did you ventured down to the corner Starbucks and interact with “Magic Cup?” 

We did, and thanks to the “buy one, get one” promotion, we got to experience two stories for the price of one! ::over-caffeinated::

Our impression? Good, not great. You have to learn to crawl before you can walk, right?  Starbucks’ Magic Cup promotion is a great crawler.

Dog and sled.

Once engaged, snow begins to fall. A boy and his trusty 4-legged companion come running in. A pile of snow begins to collect at the base of the cup and its show time! The boy throws down his toboggan and jumps on (dog riding piggy-back).  The two begin their decent, picking up speed. They dart safely past pines as the dog flips majestically through the air with each dip in terrain. The snow begins to level and the sled slows. The two have safely reached the bottom of the hill. Game over.

You know what would have been cooler?

If the interaction was REALLY a game! Once the characters hop on the sled, the POV changes and suddenly, it’s the user that’s on the sled; avoiding trees and performing tricks, all by gesturing finger. A point system could be incorporated, sparking friendly competition among Facebook friends via social share.  Complimentary drinks could be awarded at certain milestones.

Carolers and snowman.

Once focused on the cup, two friends begin to assemble a snowman. The two go off screen for a moment, returning with song books. They hand one off to the newly formed snowman and begin to sing (as evident by whimsical music notes and wide gaping mouths pointed up towards the sky). A moment passes, the song concludes, and the characters exchange smiling glances. The end.

What could have been done better?

If the characters actually sang (audio). Perhaps users could change the pitch and duration of individual notes based on finger movements on-screen? Facebook integration could be improved by sharing created songs with friends.

Are we overthinking it?

Perhaps the added complexity we propose for the applications far exceeds their original intent (not to mention, budget). Passive interest is built-in (as you have to have a cup handy to interact). It just feels unfinished. It’s cute, then it’s “meh,” then you find yourself asking, “now what?”

Bravo, to Starbucks for pioneering the medium - a commendable premier for in-store augmented reality. We’ll be eager to see how they top it in 2012…

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