What does it come to your mind if we say…Christmas? Gifts … you might say, or giving, sharing, being kind to each other, or spend time with the family. That’s exactly what you hear from all over the places around Christmas. Most of the communication campaigns of the brands use same cliché: they all invite people to give and share and be kind to each other, and spend time with their families… and spend money on their products that are the perfect gifts, especially with the discount they offer.
Starbucks Christmas campaign came out of the crowd and offered a new perspective to Christmas perception. We chose not to tell people what to do and shop on Christmas, instead we offered everybody the place and the reason to get together and find the true spirit of Christmas in connecting and spending time with the people they love! Hence, we succeeded to create real interaction and emotional bound not only between our brand and its consumers, but also between consumers themselves!!! We succeeded to transform a cliché campaign in one of the most interactive campaigns made in Romania, involving print & online press, social media & bloggers, obtaining fantastic results which brought our client beautiful and touching stories, but also a 4:1 return of investment!! So, yes, we believe it’s a story that worth an award!!

By received the brief for Starbucks Christmas communication campaign, it was presenting to us the international communication concept used for Christmas 2010 Holidays “Stories are gifts. Share”. The challenge for us was to create a communication platform adapted and translated to Romanian market and a campaign through which we’ll generate big buzz. Moreover, a major challenge was to generate consumer interaction and engagement, make the brand part of the Romanians’ Holidays.

Analyzing the approach that most of brands use for their Christmas communication campaigns, we realized that they have lots of things in common: they invite their customers to “give”, “share”, “spend time with their families”, “buy gifts to offer to their beloved”, “enjoy Christmas atmosphere”, “enjoy the discounts they offer” and so on. They all try to be emotional by using the same warm, human tone of voice. They all do the same: tell people what to do on Christmas. Rarely a campaign goes FURTHER than JUST TELLING you what you should do during holidays and HELPS you really doing. So, we discover that our first objective is to differentiate our campaign from the dozens other ones that were approaching consumers with the same “moving” Christmas messages and create a local campaign for Starbucks that not just tells people what present to choose and how to spend their Holidays, but to actively engaging them!
Moving back to Starbucks campaign, our objectives were to position Starbucks as the Christmas destination for both existing and new customers, create loyalty that lasts the Christmas season and furthermore, continuing in the same time to position the brand as the Coffee Leader.
Evaluation criteria: we firstly proposed to make us be heard by at least 1,000,000 Romanians especially from the big cities where Starbucks have its coffee stores – Bucharest, Cluj, Timisoara, and afterwards to really make this people be part of our campaign and to share their stories with us – with a measurable objective of 100 real Christmas stories shared!

We could have chosen to go metaphorically and transmit the creative concept from the brief exactly as we received it: stories are gifts – share! But, taking into account that the world is changing – the economic crisis has affected people, business and society on a global scale, it has caused people to rethink the way they move through life, and the way they choose and interact with brands. Suddenly we're all putting more value than ever before on the simple things in life craving simple human connection above all else. Customers, as anyone actually, would appreciate DEEDS more than WORDS, thus we struggled to come out of the crowd and not to use the same cliché told by most of the communication campaign use on Christmas, to TELL people to be nice, kind, to give, to share, etc.
As a result, our creative twist for our “Share a cup, share a story” campaign, was to literally give people a cup, for sharing us a real story. We offered everybody the place and the reason to get together on Christmas and to share a story: Starbucks helped people get together FOR REAL, of course, over a cup of delicious coffee!!!!

Firstly, we had to make our campaign known, therefore we launched it by addressing directly to the journalists, both offline and online ones. They should have understood what we plan to create through our campaign so that they would share our idea to their readers, becoming advocates and helping us to involve and bring people together for real. Afterwards, we focused directly to our consumers, through social media and helped by 7 most “wanted for a coffee” bloggers we engaged them in real conversation. Moreover, we integrated a corporate social responsibility project inside Starbucks coffee stores, through which we invited customers to donate their childhood story books to SOS Children Villages, sharing this way their childhood stories with us.
The PR Tool used for launching the campaign concept and its features was Direct Mailing. We sent to every important publishing house very nice press kits created by the new Starbucks Xmas gifts along with the press release, nice gifts bags and red paper folded inside. We also included the gift suggestions presentation of Starbucks retail items for Christmas in order to maximize the brand’s presence in press.
After sending the press kits we discussed with every journalist, presenting the campaign and convincing them about why the news is worthy to be introduced in print editions of their publications. Beside the mass communication with all glossy publications – read by our target, we also developed large Special Editorial Projects in most visible glossy and celebrity magazines: Marie Claire, Story, GQ, Shopping Report, FHM, Elle, explaining in detail Starbucks passion for coffee, the great surprises Starbucks prepared for Christmas, inviting readers to feel the true spirit of Holidays and to share their stories with us. In order to get in touch with more people, the campaign messages had also been dispatched to online news portals and online editions of newspapers, which quickly undertaken and transmitted the campaign’s messages, further to their readers, helping us to spread the word.
But, we didn’t stop here!! We also integrated in the Christmas communication campaign a CSR program for kids. What can be more heartwarming in Christmas than to share with children the fairytale memories of your books? Children, as well as adults, appreciate a good story when it is offered from someone’s heart. And taking in consideration the fact that children enjoy hearing their stories directly from books, we launched the “Books Drive” program, inviting Starbucks customers to donate at every Starbucks coffee store from all over the country unwrapped books for children. We’ve gathered hundreds of books; we’ve collected them and gave to the 133 children living in SOS Children Villages. As part of the Christmas communication campaign, the CSR program was communicated through all the PR tools proposed both to online & offline press, also inside coffee stores. This way we also offered to each customer the chance to help in raising educational opportunities for children, giving them a love proof, joy, boosting up their good mood by offering interesting stories.

The next phase of our campaign was to actively involve our consumers, motivating them to tell their stories, offering them true conversation and emotional bound. Helped by 7 of the “most wanted for a coffee” bloggers and engaging them and their readers in our campaign. The bloggers weren’t just any type of bloggers. We convinced the most “famous” ones to be part of our campaign: bloggers who also have weekly TV shows of their own (like Vlad Petreanu or Adi Hadean), bloggers that are permanently invited to TV shows (like Chinezu) or bloggers that are famous journalists writing for some of the best publications in Romania (Simona Tache or Julius from dailycotcodac). The mechanism was simple, but generous, therefore efficient: the bloggers wrote substantial articles on the importance of sharing stories, about the power of stories. Then, invited their readers to share their own stories if they wanted to share a cup of coffee. The best stories shared on blogs (as comments) were awarded with the occasion to share the story for real, over a cup of coffee with your favorite blogger at a Starbucks coffee shop. Basically, we had a story contest in place, with people from all around the country getting excited about the idea. Bloggers from Bucharest, Cluj and Timisoara (the most important cities in the country) got their blogs full of stories: about a cat, about a love affair, a Christmas in the childhood, the grandma’s cookies…etc…so tough choice. Still, 3 winners for each blog won the contest for the best (or most emotional) story and they met their favorite blogger. 3 events were organized in 3 different cities, at Starbucks coffee shops (Bucharest, Cluj, Timisoara). Here, bloggers and their readers (fans) met to share a cup, share a story. Starbucks baristas were there to also share Starbucks story, offer coffee tastings to the guests and…the last ingredient for a perfect afternoon: a cup of coffee. The events took long hours as long stories have to be shared. Then, it went further, on blogs, Facebook, and twitter people posting pictures and stories from the events.

Starbucks Christmas Campaign “Share a cup, share a story” in Romania, was a total success! We have reached and tripled our objectives and manager to create that special emotional bound between Romanian costumers and the brand, real conversation with real people. The results were very impressive: more than 80% of the publications included in our Direct Mailing list, answered to our recommendation, and created large articles related with Starbucks Christmas campaign!!!! We reached 2,835,000 readers through printed publications and more than 806,000 in online. Through our “Books Drive” project, more than 1,500 people donated books, sharing their childhood stories with SOS kids.
In social media, the results proved the importance of a good story (hence creative idea). More than 200,000 people were directly exposed, + 200 status updates on Facebook announcing the contest, sustaining it and talking about Starbucks, + 500 comments (people that shared stories), + 100 photos from the event uploaded (on other accounts that the official one), + 150 status updates of the 8 bloggers, their followers and the winners on Twitter, + 80 tweets containing the hash tag #spuneopoveste (#tellastory) from + 50 different & unique people. Here, the quantitative results are relevant, but the qualitative ones are even more impressive. All messages, comments, statuses contained a small “love message” for Starbucks and all these together made the Starbucks Christmas in Romania to be more than a consumer engagement campaign, but a real story in itself.
From the business point of view the campaign was very profitable: we manage to achieve a 4:1 return of investment!!!! We really can say that now Starbucks found its place into Romanian’s hearts, transforming from an international, borrowed brand into a brand that identifies itself with its customers’ interests, lifestyles and values.
So, do you like our story?