3/01/2007

Starbucks Encourages "Guests" to Be Even More Annoying

Is anyone else as irked by the Starbucks "Make It Your Drink" campaign as I am? You know, the one that encourages people to really mix it up, 'cause Starbucks is down with that. Throw in a shot a vanilla, ask for half-foam, half-caf. So cool.

The problem is, most of the people wringing their hands over fat, foam, lactose, or caffeine content in their coffee are usually not cool. Can we the people waiting behind this annoying customer in line just band together and say, No! Please just order a regular goddamn coffee!

I am one Starbucks customer old enough to remember the Steve Martin movie L.A. Story. In one scene, he listens to all the L.A. people place their coffee orders. Here it is, cribbed from IMDB.com:

Guy with neck-support: I'll have a decaf coffee.
Trudi: I'll have a decaf espresso.
Movie critic: I'll have a double decaf cappuccino.
Policeman: Give me decaffeinated coffee ice cream.
Harris: I'll have a half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon.
Trudi: I'll have a twist of lemon.
Guy with neck-support: I'll have a twist of lemon.
Movie critic: I'll have a twist of lemon.
Cynthia: I'll have a twist of lemon.

Even if you haven't seen the movie, you can tell that the "guy with neck-support" character is definitely not cool.

On the Starbucks site, "celebrities" endorse their favorite customized Starbucks drinks. We learn that Jerry O'Connell of Crossing Jordan likes a Venti One-Shot No Room Brewed Coffee. There are probably some really pissed off baristas in Jerry's nabe in L.A., which is too bad because he looks like an amazingly cool guy.



Starbucks is also selling some tee shirts celebrating one's originality through one's Starbucks coffee order. These were also designed by a celebrity, Mychael Knight of Project Runway (not Michael Knight of Knight Rider, so you can call off K.I.T.T.). What was the corporate thinking behind these tee shirts? I imagined the boardroom fantasy went something like this:

Cool Urban Guy #1 passes Cool Urban Guy #2 on the street.

Guy #1: Yo playa! Nice shirt.
Guy #2: Thanks, yo. I got it at Starbucks.
Guy #1: For real?
Guy #2: Yeah. Cause you can customize your coffee and shit.
Guy #1: I hear that, dawg. I'm all, "tall double-shot latte with a straw."

These corporate entities must be the same people who instructed Starbucks cashiers to ask "Can I help the next guest?" Which makes me want to say, Look, when I'm in Ralph Lauren's country home, I'm a guest. When I'm in a Starbucks on East 9th and Second, I'm a customer.

But I suppose it's better than my previous pet peeve. Starbucks cashiers used to shout out: "Can I help who's next?"

No. You can't help it at all. Unlike a Starbucks coffee order, it's totally beyond your control.

3 comments:

Douglas Cress said...

lol, well said. I tend to avoid the place altogether. There are plenty of options in this city.

bellastraniera said...

Indeed. And here's a good survey of the alternatives I saw in Time Out. A couple of them are even in the E. Vill, so I suppose I won't lose any street cred by going to them instead.

I would still kill for one of those tees, tho.

Marty H. said...

Greetings from a far-flung correspondent.

This joyous advertising campaign has not been rolled out by Starbucks in London; however, neither have they yet taught their barristas to serve the coffee. We remain hopeful.

A good alternative on this side of the pond is Cafe Nero, where its still an emotionally debilitating experience for some people to figure out the exact combination of coffee, milk and sugar that will not cause their head to immediately explode (the only apparent excuse for all of this nonsense), but the coffee comes out hot and the biscotti taste like someone from Italy might have been involved at some point. Still a chain, but better than cold Starbucks...