Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is This PR? - My Starbucks Card

Starbucks has recently decided to combine two of its rewards programs into one: the My Starbucks card. Starbucks offers this card with the phrase: "Free drinks. Free syrups. Free soymilk. Free Wi-Fi. And best of all, free to join." It's not a new concept. Plenty of companies have these, even small businesses in the form of a punch card. Starbucks even had cards that were similar. The idea is that you register your card and put money on it to use at Starbucks. Then, after a certain amount of drinks purchased, you start to get free stuff. They have different levels. It's all explained in this article from The Coffee Guy (who incidentally gives a little more information about Starbucks in general). He seems to think it's a good idea. He says Starbucks is adapting and trying to help out its customers who come there often. As we know, many people buy coffee every day and Starbucks isn't cheap.
Is this a good PR tactic? I think it is. Some think this program will not create loyalty among patrons, but heck, Starbucks has plenty of people who are loyal. This is about rewarding those who are loyal. I think this says a lot about Starbucks. It is realizing its coffees can get expensive and it is offering benefits to those who still buy it. Is it enough to keep increase its customers? Only time will tell, but I think, overall, this program is a good thing and good PR.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Is This PR? - PETA

Ok so I don't want to become biased in my Is This PR? presentation but this one is about PETA, its controversial ads, and its responses to negative responses to these ads.
There are so many websites and blogs dedicated to anti-PETA rhetoric, like PETA Kills Animals and Anti-PETA (which is actually a website that contains links to other Anti-PETA websites/blogs). But the particular PR move from PETA that I am going to talk about has been written about by more than just PETA haters. Recently, they put up a billboard in Jacksonville, Fla. that depicted an overweight woman in a bikini with the words "Save the Whales" and "Lose the Blubber. Go Vegetarian." on it. This billboard has outraged people with its insensitivity to overweight people and to women. And there have been quite a few negative responses to the ad.

One of the most interesting things I found about this incident though is the lack of response from PETA and the responses I have been able to find have been insensitive and unapologetic themselves. Here's one from a woman who passed the billboard and felt personally offended - and the response from PETA she received. Here's another from Chattahbox that includes some quotes from the press release about the billboard (and here's the original press release). And, of course, here is one last article that directly mentions this ad while also talking about the power of social media to make this an even bigger issue than it would have been 20 years ago.

Overall, this is bad PR. PETA needs to learn how to make advertisements that don't offend the audience it is targeting. Also, a little humility in responses would help too. I know it's a radical group but this kind of PR won't get it anywhere.