Each week in Ad Snacking, former advertising executive-turned-chef Eli Sussman takes a close look at a recent food advertisement. He’ll keep the copy short to guarantee the R.O.I. for procrastinating at your desk stays high.
With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, the holiday ad season has taken a turn for the sappier. The advertising season, from Thanksgiving through December 24th, offers a bounty of ugly sweater-clad carolers, fake snowy nativity scenes, extreme eggnog consumption, jovial Santas receiving cute letters from naïve children and racially diverse imagery of reuniting families. Advertisers understand how to get us to open up our wallets and shell out the big bucks come Christmas time.
This week’s Ad Snacking is a Starbucks commercial about family guilt with sappiness as thick as the foam on the top of that vente half-caf pumpkin spice espressachino. And just like any drink from Starbucks, it’s nearly too sweet to consume with all of the awful aftertaste.
WE USED TO SELL COFFEE, NOW WE JUST PRY INTO YOUR PERSONAL LIFE (BUT WE’VE STILL GOT COMPILATION CDS!)
The ad showcases Starbucks (depicted by proxy as an adorable, caring barista) as a controlling entity that spends every weekend prying into your personal affairs and then creeps around at night planning a surprise gift that you probably don’t even want. So Starbucks is kind of like your mom, which makes this ad painfully ironic. The only thing that this ad proves is that the product at Starbucks is so addictive and expensive that people would rather drink it than fly their mothers out for their wedding. “Our product is almost as addictive as meth! You’ll never travel to see your family again! And it’s so expensive you won’t be able to afford it anyway!”
WE’RE RACIST AND CONDESCENDING! STARBUCKS, REUNITING UNDERPRIVILEGED FAMILIES THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!
There is something that’s not-so-subtly racist about the white barista (with the backing of the big major corporation in a position of great power), looking to do good around the holidays by finding a “charity case” and helping a black family reunite when they couldn’t afford to do so themselves.
Derrell and his wife are so close with their barista that she knows Derrell and his wife have not been back East to visit his mom in a long time. So she decides to reunite their family. The barista (who has a general disregard for the environment and cup inventory) saves the holidays for the couple by creating a pointless ozone hole-busting trail of cups to the grand reveal. They go there every weekend! They know the damn way to Starbucks.
IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE! (THAT YOU SURVIVED!)
This ad is horrendous. It’s offensive and makes no logical sense. Why the hell don’t they just cut back their coffee consumption and fly his mom out to see them!? The only thing that can salvage this ad is recutting it as a horror film trailer like people do on YouTube. It starts off with the cute single white female who’s just trying to help. She’s a friendly barista! Adorable! She’s super-commited to her job. Nice! And she knows Derrell and his wife’s schedule and what they order each week. Cute! And she knows he doesn’t see his mom enough and wants to help. Awh. And somehow she knows Derrell’s mom’s phone number. Uh, what? And oh wow, she knows where Derrell and his wife live. Oh no, this is bad…and she’s creeping around Derrell’s house at night with thousands of cups because she’s obsessed with coffee and/or Derrell!
“He just needs help finding his way” she says. Look how psycho her face looks at :38 seconds mark.) She’s a murderer! Derrell, don’t follow the cups. DONT! FOLLOW! THE CUPS!
All I know is that if I go into one Starbucks enough that some annoying chick is trying to fix my life for me, that’s the sign that I am spending too much time at Starbucks. There’s already a white person who has fixing minorities lives for them on lockdown and that person is Ty Pennington. And when Ty Pennington makes YOU seem intrusive and annoying, it’s time to take a good long look in the mirror. So perhaps Starbucks should leave the tug-at-your-heart seasonal ads to the folks that do them best. That way, Starbucks can stick to what they do best: ripping us off for our coffee.
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