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3 insane Starbucks campaigns

Bethany Simpson
3 insane Starbucks campaigns Bethany Simpson

There's no question Starbucks is a forward-moving company. Most recently they've launched new digital payment options and a co-branded digital network. They continue to launch new products including an energy drink and juices while making great strides in sustainability and increasing their international expansion. The company is even making forays into alcohol, while continuing its inroads in grocery retail. These and other projects are helping Starbucks remain a bright spot on the stock market map, the company announcing last week a new record for 52-week stock value average.

But the coolest new things are coming out of the digital marketing department.

We recently spent time with Alex Wheeler, Starbucks' global head of digital marketing. She has, arguably, the most coveted job in digital: She's been hired to create unique, addictive campaigns for a market-leading brand. The easy access to vanilla lattes is also a plus. But the coolest part is how easy she makes her job look. She'd be the first to say it's a team effort. But we were floored by some of the digital campaigns coming out of Starbucks.

Here are the three most insane ones, starting with an underground digital scavenger hunt SRCH, kicked off by Lady Gaga.

Digital scavenger hunt

Starbucks SRCH was a two-week scavenger hunt in partnership with Lady Gaga. It started with a cryptic QR code, and led players through a series of cerebral and digital clues. Participants visited blogs and Starbucks digital properties to decode messages that involved math, logic, reading, and pop culture. The game play was inspired by "I Love Bees," as well as Jay-Z's "Decoded" book release game and puzzle play. Watch the video for the rest of the amazing story.

Starbucks makes AR look easy.

Starbucks launched their first major augmented reality app: "Cup Magic." The free app, for iPhone and Android devices, works by the user pointing the phone's camera at special Starbucks coffee cups and additional objects, such as bags of coffee. Doing so causes the characters to animate on the screen, and customers can then interact with the characters. Those who activated all five holiday characters were entered in a prize drawing. The app also included traditional and social sharing capabilities. Starbucks followed up the successful campaign with a Valentine's Day version.

Go big, or go home.

Starbucks went big when they decided to use their 24 million Facebook fans to help usher in the fall holiday season, and announce the return of the popular Pumpkin Spice Latte. The company unveiled a Pumpkin Spice Latte application and beverage-branded game on its Facebook page. Fans participated in points-based activities to try to win the prize of having the latte flavor be available in their city first. The campaign also included this awesome spoof video.

Bethany Simpson is director of video content at iMedia Connection.

On Twitter? Follow Bethany at @bethanysimpson. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Bethany Simpson

Bethany has worked with Fortune-1000 executives for 8 years. From 2007 to 2011 she served as director of content development for the Leadership Network, a private online community for C-Level leaders of Fortune-1000 companies and $1B+ organizations.

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