A Latte and a Squirrel. Cute But Why?

Somehow it became news that we can interact with characters in Starbucks.  Haven’t we been doing that all along?

If you haven’t had your dose of reality – augmented reality, that is – let me fill you in. Beginning next Tuesday, customers who download an app for iPhone and Android devices can experience what Starbucks is calling “Cup Magic”.


Specifically by firing up the app and pointing it at a holiday cup, one can interact with five characters — an ice skater, a squirrel, a boy and a dog sledding and a fox — on your screen.

And, if you are so inclined, you can share the feature on Facebook and via email.

The object, Alexandra Wheeler, Vice President of Global Digital Marketing for Starbucks told Mashable is to “surprise and delight” customers during the holiday season.

My take?

It’s one more case of augmented reality showing off whiz bang technology but not delivering much value. At the risk of being a Scrooge – it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been so described – what’s in this for us? I am in Starbucks six days a week, looking for a jolt of Joe, not cuteness.

Sure, Starbucks created buzz with the campaign but don’t we already get that with our Venti latte?

For years that sometimes feel forever, we’ve counseled brands to create mobile experiences that drive business. Our MillerCoors client uses mobile for one reason – to sell more beer.

Will Starbucks move any more product by giving us skaters in our holiday cup scenes? Isn’t augmented reality more useful if it serves a utilitarian purpose like showing me the nearest discount on coffee when I’m in a new city?

When it comes to augmented reality, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

(first appeared on imediaconnection.com http://blogs.imediaconnection.com/blog/2011/11/09/a-latte-and-a-squirrel-cute-but-why/)