When fall comes around, everything gets decked out in pumpkins, from pumpkin pie, to pumpkin colored clothing. Amidst the orange chaos, in the fall of 2014, Starbucks needed to let everyone know that their Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) drink was the true beginning of the pumpkin craze.
They decided to personify their PSL by creating The Real PSL. This character’s job was to interact with his fans about the drink through two-way communication of creative tweets and photos. Starbucks produced separate Twitter and Tumblr accounts in order to give The Real PSL his own voice and personality.The Real PSL posted close to 10,000 tweets and 99% of them were personalized replies to his followers.
Along with creating The Real PSL, Starbucks also introduced the #spotthespice game. This game gave followers the chance to tweet to The Real PSL to be the first ones to get the Pumpkin Spice Latte drink during the fall season. They also launched a game board on Tumblr for their fans to solve different hints to win the password to purchase the drink early. The Real PSL and the social media games were a huge success:
Twitter followers: 85.7k
Sales increased: 22% year over year at launch
Fan engagement with scavenger event: 70%
(statistics from http://shortyawards.com/7th/starbucks-pumpkin-spice-latte-fall-2014)
When people tagged their friends or retweeted The Real PSL, they expanded the community of Starbucks’ social media, as well as advertised the Starbucks brand. Not only did it benefit Starbucks, but it also allowed their followers to interact with their employees on a fun and personal level.
In relation to the book It’s Not about the Coffee: Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks, by Howard Behar, this campaign is just one of the many examples where Starbucks made sure that their goal was about the people. The book talks about how Starbucks is about the people’s experiences, not just the coffee.
Through this campaign, Starbucks invited their customers to interact with the company and also make them feel special, by allowing them to have early access to their PSL drink. They created a trusting relationship with their consumers, because at the end of the day, Starbucks’ brand is about making them feel at home.