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3 PR Lessons We Learnt from Starbucks Unicorn Frappucino


Img: Starbucks

Social media is everywhere, meaning that, as hard as we try, we just can’t escape the latest craze that the world is retweeting or hashtagging. Recently that trend has been Unicorns, with unicorn products and make-up dominating our Facebook and Instagram feeds. The latest brand to join the craze is Starbucks with their limited edition, whimsical new creation, the Unicorn Frappuccino.

For all the glitter-obsessed, fairy tale lovers, this drink seems like the ultimate luxury beverage. The sweet and fruity new creation is topped off with whipped cream-sprinkled pink and blue fairy powders and, when swirled, changes not only flavour – from sweet to sour – but colour too, displaying an array of pinks and purples.

So how has one drink managed to grab social media by the horn, despite only being available for four days and on only one side of the world? We break down just what Starbucks has done to make sure its creation was a PR success.

The FOMO effect is key

Limited edition. Whenever we hear those words we can’t help but want to try whatever it is that’s on offer, and Starbucks has played right into this phenomenon. By making us think we’ll be missing out if we don’t get involved, they ensured maximum hype. Fear of missing out is a business’s best friend, driving consumers to buy products or join in with events, often despite having little or no interest, simply because of the hype surrounding them.

The VIP effect also helps

Although some would say Starbucks didn’t think global, by only releasing the Frappuccino in their USA, Canada and Mexico stores, this may actually have worked in their favour. The endless social media posts from those who have tasted the drink served to make British customers crave what they cannot have all the more. This has cemented and intensified a demand for the drink in the UK and the rest of the world, and means a release in new countries will attract even more hype in future.

The novelty effect seals the deal

While the Frappuccino is quite an unhealthy drink (with an eye-watering 410-calorie tag and more than twice the amount of sugar recommend per day), it still proved a whopping great success. It attracted the attention of the world piquing our curiosity and intrigue purely because it is something we haven’t seen before. While colour-changing drinks aren’t exactly new, Starbucks’ mystical ‘unicorn’ gimmick still managed to create something unique. This one-of-a-kind product, along with an excellent knowledge of how social media would react, meant that Starbucks managed to completely grab our attention and won’t be letting go of it anytime soon.

Starbucks is only the latest brand to jump on the ‘stunt food’ wagon, an industry term for food or drinks being introduced to menus following a social media craze. Instagram and other social media sites are currently blowing up due to the recent buzz surrounding the Unicorn, rainbow food and drink craze, with everything from Unicorn hot drinks to grilled cheeses. Starbucks’ is just one example of a brand using this trend to go viral and reap the rewards of free online advertising. But what do you think? With mixed reviews on the actual quality of the drink, has this all gone too far and what will the next new phenomenon be?

Here at JAM, we don’t jump on trends willy nilly, but we’ve always got our fingers on the pulse when it comes to sniffing out what’s newsworthy. Give us a shout on 0161 850 0565 or email to talk about your next project.


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