I recently came across Starbuck’s new frappuccino ad campaign and cannot decide if they are brilliant or unethical:

This commercial seems very positive and simple, but there is a lot going on in 16 seconds. This commercial tries to hit the viewer every which way with visual, audio, and textual stimulus all of which have nothing to do with coffee in any way.

Now I understand the argument, Starbucks is not selling coffee; they aren’t even selling a brand, they are trying to sell a lifestyle. This issue I have concerns with is the very last line of the commercial: “Express your love.”

Starbucks is not selling coffee; they aren’t even selling a brand, they are trying to sell a lifestyle

This is a very powerful three word statement. In fact, I challenge anyone to think of a simpler, more emotionally stimulating message than “Express your love.” I could dissect why these words are powerful and emotional, but that is tangential to my point. My concern is what will happen when we no longer receptive to emotional stimuli. I have a growing concern that one day we will make ourselves immune to emotionally charged advertising. I am not concerned that consumers will stop buying, I am concerned that consumers will stop feeling.

I am not concerned that consumers will stop buying, I am concerned that consumers will stop feeling.

If our advertising makes people immune to emotional triggers, what is going to stop consumers from being immune to real emotional stimuli, not just the manufactured type?

On a note of full disclosure, I think the frappuccinos are delicious and am not offended by the ad campaign; just playing devils’ advocate so that people may think about it.

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