Pink Drink Gives Starbucks a PR Black Eye

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Starbucks Black EyeAnyone who knows me, follows me on Twitter or reads my blog posts regularly knows that I love Starbucks and I have a drink from there at least once a day. In fact,my love runs so deep that I often discuss my love for all things Starbucks across my social media platforms. I am willing to bet that I discuss Starbucks almost as much as I talk about my son, Aiden (I said almost).

In April, for health reasons, I decided to give up my daily coffee. But I had to replace it with something else from Starbucks which is how I started drinking the Strawberry Acai Refresher. But then, in early June, all over social media were details of how to order the pink drink off the “secret” (but now not so secret) menu. This looked like a pretty big win for Starbucks as everywhere I looked online there was discussion of this secret drink. That is until then the secret purple drink came out and then the rainbow drink menu.

This might seem like a huge PR win for Starbucks, the new rainbow color drinks are all over and they are being ordered faster than you can say “pink drink.” That is until your regulars can’t order their regular drink.

Why is this a PR Fail for Starbucks?

I typically mobile order in the morning and just walk in and pick up my drink. Until the other day, when the manager told me they were out of Strawberry Acai and they don’t have any way of putting that into the system. He told me I could go to a different Starbucks a few blocks away (yes there are three Starbucks at my intersection) and order it, but imagine how inconvenient that was. Later that same afternoon I needed a second refresher and went to the Starbucks by my work. I waited in the drive-thru and then when I got to where I could order, they told me they were out of it. The worst part? I had to then wait in the long line to leave, without a drink, because there is no alternate way to leave the drive-thru.

Starbucks Rachel Brockway

Then just this last Sunday, I was at my normal Starbucks and my normal barista gave me a heads up that they were on the last box of the Strawberry Acai and that I shouldn’t mobile order the next day as they would probably be out. She let me know that they wouldn’t have a shipment until the following Saturday, that Starbucks couldn’t keep up with the demand from the extra rainbow drinks that were being ordered. On Monday I didn’t mobile order, I went in and sure enough they were out. So I went to Starbucks number two and they were out as well. I had to visit the third Starbucks to get my drink.

I think this is a big fail by Starbucks. Why isn’t there wasn’t a plan for the regular customers who come in? In my opinion keeping their "regular" customers happy (and not having to wait in long lines for nothing or visit multiple Starbuck’s locations) should be more important than a “fad” that will be gone (hopefully) soon.

What do you think?

Is the fact that Starbucks isn’t taking care of their regular customers justified for the extra branding or is this a big mistake on their part?

Rachel Brockway
Rachel Brockway
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

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