Monday, April 24, 2017 3:05 PM

Marketing Genius

It is no secret that major corporations spend millions of dollars in mass marketing campaigns in an attempt to separate you from your hard earned cash.  Think about the huge amounts of cash a Fortune 500 company is willing to spend on a Super Bowl ads alone just to get that earworm of a jingle stuck in your noggin.  What if in a master stroke of genius one of those companies could reach just as many consumers or even more without spending any money at all?  Starbucks has made a habit of getting our tongues wagging on more than one occasion while spending next to no advertising budget at all! 

I would like to present “Exhibit A” to my case.  Remember a couple of years ago when everyone lost their minds over Starbucks changing their much anticipated decorated Christmas cup to just a plain red cup? I mean “the-sky-is-falling” lost their minds. The Starbucks logo and name was everywhere!  It wasn’t just all over every form of news media either. Be honest, how many of you were online and tweeted about it? Or if you didn’t, you were in an online conversation about it on someone’s Facebook news feed. It was a genius mass marketing, social media blitz that didn’t cost Starbucks a dime! 

I would like to take a moment and introduce “Exhibit B” to my case, the newly introduced Unicorn Frappuccino. I noticed this techno-colored throw-up in a cup for the first time earlier this week due to a couple of friends posting pictures of it online. Of course, me being me, and curiosity getting the best of me, I had to check it out. Ummm… NO, I DIDN’T BUY ONE! Nor did I take a hit of anyone else’s! It’s called research, people!

The very first thing I wanted to know is, what the heck is in that thing! So I went straight to the source, the Starbucks website and checked out the nutrition label, which in this case seems like quite the oxymoron to call it a “nutrition” label. I entered “Large” to get not just a calorie count, but to also see how much sugar and fat one would be ingesting. Sorry, but I refuse to call it “Venti, Grande or Tall,” it is “small, medium or large” in my world. I never claimed to be a PC guy.

Now don’t sweat it if you are not really adept at reading food labels. I am just going to cherry pick a few simple but, I think very dramatic, points here that will make sense to you without having to understand the intricacies of reading a food label.

The first thing that jumps out is the calorie count: 500 calories is HUGE! This is equal to eating a meal! A substantial meal at that! So what you think might be a convenient snack really isn’t at all.

Are you picking up what I am putting down yet? That’s OK if not, ‘cause I am just getting started!  Let’s look at that fat content, shall we? If you were not aware, there are 9 calories in a single gram of fat. Starbucks lists that a large Unicorn Frappuccino contains 160 calories from fat. So if my math is correct, that means there is not quite 18 grams of fat in your drink. The reason I converted that from calories of fat to grams of fat, is that I wanted to give you a nice visual reminder of what you are putting in your body. The picture below is what a single gram of fat looks like, so think that times 18!

How are we doing so far? I'm guessing Starbucks is most likely marketing to your kiddo on this one, with it being so awe-inspiring colorful with no coffee included and all. Ask yourself, do you REALLY want little Johnny or Suzy sitting in the back seat of your minivan amped up on 76 grams of sugar after you pass by the Starbucks drive-up window? Yes, you read that right 76 grams per serving!  That blows Hostess out of the water as far as getting your kiddo spun on sugar. A Twinkie only has 19 grams of sugar in comparison. Yes, I am telling you that you would have to eat roughly four Twinkies to equal the amount of sugar in one Unicorn Frap! Are you more of a candy bar fan? There are 20 grams of sugar in a Snickers bar, so you could hammer four of those bad boys and be in the same ballpark. If you were wondering where all that sugar comes from, feel free to look at the ingredient label. I took the liberty to highlight for you and noted not just sugar, but also the forms of hidden sugar as well. Forgive me if I happened to miss one! 

As if this wasn’t enough, you might save your barista from an untimely public meltdown by fighting the urge to order your own neon colored, poison infused, ice, milk and whipped cream blended gut bomb.

The only positive takeaway for me is that the blended concoction named after the one horn mythical creature is that it was only around for five days!  As of April 23rd you missed your chance!

Tim Clark
Manager Fitness Club
CMC Fitness Center