Tag Archives: social

Five Reasons Why Starbucks’ Cup Magic Is Truly Magical

You may have read about “Cup Magic,” Starbucks’ augmented reality holiday promotion, but if not, here’s the scoop.

Caffeine lovers are encouraged to download a free app, buy a cup of coffee, and point their smartphone at the character on the cup. Through the magic of augmented reality, the characters come to life, acting out holiday scenes such as sledding and ice skating.


Here’s why BRANDEMiX believes augmented reality will be a major advertising trend for 2012:

  • •It’s social. The Starbucks app easily allows you to share the animations through either Facebook or email. So even people who don’t know about the promotion, or even consciously ignore Starbucks advertising, may find a fun little holiday video in their Facebook feed. Starbucks is letting customers do its marketing.
  • It’s great for business. Since each Starbucks cup features only one character, customers must buy at least five cups of coffee to see them all. Then again, even non-drinkers can get into the fun, as 47 Starbucks products are involved in the promotion.
  • •It’s great for everyone. Let’s face it, Starbucks doesn’t offer many items for little ones; many locations sell biscottis instead of cookies. With this new promotion, anyone of any age can enjoy the experience. In fact, since the videos have no dialogue, you don’t even have to speak English.
  • •It creates urgency. Assuming the promotion runs through New Year’s Day, that means customers have 47 days to experience it. A short timeline encourages consumers to visit their Starbucks as soon as possible (though some of us wouldn’t last 47 hours without our Frappucino). Compare this to summer promotions, where consumers sometimes have more than 125 days to participate. More time means less urgency.
  • •It’s fun. There are no coupons, discounts, or special offers associated with the campaign. It doesn’t even cost anything to participate, since the app is free and you can activate videos on products that are just sitting on the shelves. Keeping money out of the equation reinforces the idea that the promotion is for fun and for sharing with friends, a perfect theme for the holidays.

Photo by Liam Gladdy

Starbucks is proving to be a leader in the mobile space. The company’s payment app, which launched in January, has already been used in more than 20 million transactions.  Its QR codes give customers an “evolved shopping experience,” letting them hear music from the region where Starbucks coffee is grown or read reviews from coffee experts.  Cup Magic looks like it will continue Starbucks’ exploration of mobile technology. What’s next?

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Does Mobile Gaming Increase Sales?

The recent Business Development Institute conference that Jason attended featured a number of presentations about mobile gaming. With mobile gaming sales reaching $5.6 billion in 2010, everyone agrees that mobile games are fun, popular, and profitable. However, I think there’s still one question that remains unanswered: Do mobile games actually increase sales?


In 2010, Volkswagen unveiled a driving game called Real Racing GTI to promote their new car. It was “the first time someone launched a car on mobile,” according to Daniel Rosen, the head of AKQA Mobile. The game was downloaded over 6 million times and was the #1 free app in 36 countries. But did it move the needle? AKQA reports that Real Racing GTI led to “over 80% increase in sales leads, test drives and quote requests.” They, and Volkswagen, attributed more than 200 car sales to the campaign.


So there’s one example of mobile gaming increasing sales; here’s another. Jason wrote about RadioShack’s Holiday Hero campaign, in which players could unlock a 20% discount by checking in on Foursquare at locations connected to superheroes, such as a gym. The campaign was backed by funny commercials and videos of holiday shoppers in capes and tights. When the promotion was over, RadioShack found that Foursquare users spent 350% more than the average RadioShack customer during the Christmas season.


Mobile gaming can work for cars and consumer electronics. How about shoes? Fresh Networks ran a Foursquare campaign in London for Jimmy Choo, called the Trainer Hunt. Foursquare allowed a pair of Jimmy Choo trainer shoes to check in at trendy spots around the city. Any Foursquare user who checked in at the same location before the trainers left received a pair of shoes in any style or size. The mobile game became a real-time treasure hunt. The result? During the campaign, daily trainer sales increased 33%.

Speaking of treasure hunts, mobile game maker SCVNGR has achieved success with its Diamond Dashes, citywide quests for a diamond engagement ring. SCVNGR has brought this technology to communities in North Carolina, Montana, and Philadelphia, among others. The marketing company claims that its fun, romantic searches brought “positive TV, print, radio, internet and word of mouth attention” to its retail partners. But what about sales? SCVNGR’s case study provides impressive numbers in Facebook Likes and website traffic, but is silent on financial matters. Still, I bet that all that news coverage of laughing couples chasing clues and solving puzzles was probably worth thousands of dollars in advertising.

After all this research, I’m prepared to say that mobile gaming can, in fact, increase sales. From sports cars to RC cards, and from footwear to diamonds, a number of different brands (and ad agencies) have found measurable success with mobile games. My agency is excited about this technology and working on several mobile projects for different clients. If you want to learn more, or share your own mobile gaming story, then post a comment, tweet us @BRANDEMiX, or write on our Facebook wall.