Ciaran Watkins – Costa And Starbucks: The Great Coffee Advertising War

Posted on March 15, 2011 by


Exactly a week ago, I posted an entry about the new Starbucks advertising campaign. The whole ‘Starbucks and You: It’s bigger than coffee’ thing. You can read what I thought about it over here. It’s a look at how the advertising for Starbucks at the moment is more about lifestyle than actually advertising a cup of coffee.

Advertising a lifestyle is great and all, but what if you’re one of the coffee chains that doesn’t have a hip, cool, and ‘with it’ following of loyal consumers? What do you do then? Probably something like this.

That’s right, you hit whoever is involved where it hurts. Right in the fact department. There are a few coffee chains in the UK, but the ‘big three’ are Costa, Nero and Starbucks. In this advert Costa actually called out the rival chain ‘Starbucks’, obviously trying to tempt their customer base rather than another chain’s customers. That’s rather brave really, as Starbucks is the obvious ‘favourite’ if we consider store coverage as a means of popularity. Of course, what this advert makes painfully clear, is that Starbucks really isn’t the ‘nations favourite’. Fact time!

8,887.32 (54%) people voted Costa as their favourite chain

4,450.95 (27%) people voted Starbucks as their favourite chain

That’s twice (totally not half, you’re missing two whole people!) as many!

I wonder who the other 3,119,73 people voted for. I hope it wasn’t McDonalds. Their tea is disgusting. Anyway, what this advert tries to make so plainly clear, is that Costa is better than Starbucks. Better, because the people say so, and the people are always right! Right? Well, probably, but we all know if you’re asked to think of a ‘coffee chain’, you’re going to be thinking of Starbucks. It’s that market that Costa need to crack. It’s all well and good exclaiming in print form that people who already visit your store like your product (let’s be honest, the survey was probably conducted inside Costa stores), but what you need to be doing is tempting new customers into your store, and making them fall in love with your existing brand and spectacular product.

Unfortunately, that’s what Starbucks are doing with their new campaign. In advertising a lifestyle many people wish to be part of, they’re going to gain more patrons trying to grasp hold of that particular lifestyle. Costa can be for ‘coffee lovers’ as much as it wants, but as lovely and hard hitting as this advert is, until it can compete with the complete global saturation of Starbucks, then Costa will always be second best. Despite what the customers say, which is unfortunate for Costa, as it makes a mean cup of tea, and serves a cracking chocolate brownie. The entire thought of this campaign is null and void anyway, as Cafe Nero is blates the best coffee chain to drink in.

Read more over at Whatever’s In There, Falls Out Here.

Posted in: Ciaran Watkins