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August 31, 2006

The Iced Starbucks Coupon


re: the Starbucks Iced Coffee coupon … if needed, read the background story here, here, and here
As someone who helped shape Starbucks field marketing and corporate marketing programs back in the day, I find it incredulous the company would even greenlight this particular Internet coupon. They've seen fake web coupons distributed far and wide on the web before and thus, should have been able to anticipate this mess. While I cannot recall the specific incidents, in the go-go dotcom days, Starbucks used email coupons and learned to expect abuse from customers.

According to reports, the coupon offer was a regional marketing activity initiated in the Southeast region. It was sent to select Starbucks employees who were to pass-it-along to a few of their friends and family. The offer was for a free iced-coffee drink from noon to 9 pm any day between August 23 and September 30.

The problem wasn’t with the email coupon nor the abuse by customers. The problem was with the month-plus long expiry date.

Had Starbucks kept the expiry date short, as in available only on Aug 23 or just Wednesdays during September, the abuse would have been minimized greatly.

I’m at a total loss to think Starbucks marketers couldn’t have anticipated this mess before greenlighting the coupon. The lesson learned here is to keep expiration dates short and contained for Internet coupons.


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I completely agree on the expiry date. I actually mentioned the same kind of thing yesterday: The Starbucks E-mail Offer.

I guess you didn't send them an advance copy of your book, John. Or they wouldn't've done such a dumb thing...

It's all your fault.

I do feel for SBUX here as this gaffe was avoidable. The company knows better. Tribal knowledge of past mistakes in this area exists within SBUX. If I was in my old role of Field Marketing Integration Manager, I would have questioned this tactic early on and offered of ways to reduce the risk.

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