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Good marketing is good, says UBCO professor

Eric Li, who teaches marketing in UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Management, says the Starbucks red cup generated more attention than an expensive holiday marketing campaign probably might have done.
Image Credit: Contributed

KELOWNA – A UBC Okanagan marketing professor says Starbucks' successful and controversial red cup campaign was good marketing.

Assistant Professor Eric Li said in a news release that attention to a product is actually good for sales. He also claims the anti-Starbucks Facebook video, uploaded by an American evangelist four days after the release of their plain, red cups, inadvertently made the campaign more successful than if nobody knew about it.

Four days after the cups were revealed, TV and radio evangelist Joshua Feuerstein posted his outrage that “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.” The video was viewed more than 16 million times and has been talked about on TV, radio and social media.

In his news release, Li says the technique isn't called marketing, it's called "transmedia storytelling."

“Controversy draws people’s attention," he said. "It’s a different level of awareness.”

The release says transmedia storytelling tells a single story or experience across platforms without paying anyone - in other words it gets people talking.

“Starbucks knows the consumer has a short memory,” Li says. “In the past, people would talk about the red cups for a week and then move on.”

Starbucks VP of Design Jeffrey Fields says the intent of the new design was to create a blank canvas for customers to create their own designs. The release does not say if Starbucks does in fact hate Jesus but Li says without the evangelist’s video, the red cup campaign would never have succeeded the way it has. He also cynically predicts Starbucks would try to take advantage of the attention in the future.

“By next month they will tell a different version of the story to keep it going, and still be relevant," he says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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