Lady Gaga Plays Games with Starbucks… Designed by Marketers, Not Gamers

A marketers dream, i can see it now.  “We got her!”, screamed the Starbucks marketing exec after hanging up the phone with William Morris.  “We bagged the biggest name there is;  18 Billion Facebook Fans, 100 Billion Twitter Fans, this is it, the greatest coup in marketing history”

Now what?

Assistant:  “Let’s create a digital game and deploy every piece of ‘cool’ mobile and online technology available”

Marketing Executive:  “Like Mobile check-ins”

Assistant:  Yeah, perfect! Foursquare, I got that app at SXSW 🙂

Marketing Executive:  “and Twitter….”

Assistant:  “I’ll tweet that right now”

Marketing Executive: “and Facebook…”

Assistant:  “already LIKEing” 🙂

Marketing Executive: “Oh yeah, and that annoying bar code thing Best Buy puts all over the stores, that thing is cool, because everyone is talking about it”

Assistant:  “I have my trusty QR code reader right here” 🙂  “Got that at CTIA.”

And so it begins, Starbucks has successfully pulled out all the stops to make a “fun game” ( ) for the US minority.

Only 21% of the country can actually compete because smart phone penetration only hits 21% of the US mobile users, worse, only 18% of smart phone users access location-based services ( which is 7.1% of the nations mobile users.

And then the real problem… only a handful actually use QR codes (  This article states 32% of smart phone users have used a QR code (what, once?)… I’ve read as low as 21%.  Frankly, I don’t buy it, QR codes are the biggest pain to work with;

My favorite part of the program is this message on Starbucks page:

And for those of you who love a good puzzle, you don’t have to wait for May 23. We’ve just launched a unique digital game called SRCH. Along with the thrill of the hunt, there are some pretty sweet prizes and Lady Gaga has a featured role. The game lasts from May 19 to June 7, and there’s no purchase necessary to play. To get started, scan the code below with a QR code reader. (Need a QR reader? Conveniently, the My Starbucks iPhone app has one embedded in it). Have fun and good luck!

Starbucks GAGA Promo For the Minority

Starbucks has to explain to their audience that they have to get a QR reader.  Starbucks understands that this is a niche technology pushed by a few to try to change users mobile habits.  Starbucks would be better off using a text campaign or a ** campaign .

A reminder to marketers, don’t try to teach people technology if you want a good consumer experience.  Starbucks has successfully removed 90% plus of the US population from their promotion. Ridiculous…

On a lighter note, they are deploying “gamification” tactics, which should be fun for a few of their latte drinkers.

Starbucks should learn from Zynga, a gaming company and even better marketing company.  Zynga brought the Gaga brand to their house, “Farmville”, and made them stay there.  Starbucks is sending their customers to other brands – Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.  They should keep the game in “their house” so people have to physically be there – that’s the mantra of retail right? – KEEP THE CUSTOMERS IN THE DOOR.


About Why Gamify?

Why Gamify? Because people deploy game mechanics in non-game based applications every day.  We have ringtones to achieve status, we use our American Express Cards to level up for “cool things”, and we become members of the million mile clubs just to use the lounges.  Our lives utilize ‘gamification’ mechanics every day, and this has been true since the dawn of mankind.  Why Gamify? intends to break down non-traditional applications and introduce leaders in these fields to comment on what has worked, what hasn’t worked, and their best guess for the future of ‘gamification’ in their fields.  Why Gamify? intends to bring together their insight on how ‘gamification’ and new technology will impact the way the average individual, teacher, business leader, entertainer, athlete, student and beyond thinks about ‘gamification’ in their lives.

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