Creature Gives Starbucks Seasonal Glow

LOS ANGELES Giant snow globes, coffee-themed renditions of seasonal classics and cab-riding lattes deck the country’s malls and shopping areas this week as part of Starbucks “alternative holiday campaign,” by Seattle independent Creature.

Intended to complement the chain’s more traditional print and outdoor ads by Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore., the Creature executions “speak to a little bit different audience,” said agency creative director Jim Haven. Attempting to capture “the more humorous, celebratory side of the holidays, this campaign is designed to surprise people with interesting, somewhat magical tactics,” he explained.

Examples of that include 4-foot coffee cups encased in holiday-scene snow globes, on display in Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, Las Vegas, Boston, Toronto, Washington, D.C., and New York, said Haven. Carols and poems with caffeine-inspired twists will appear in alt weeklies, college publications and as outdoor posters; online since Friday, a one-minute Web film documents the adventures of a red Venti cup’s action-packed taxi trip through the streets of San Francisco. In addition, Starbucks will sponsor free parking meters throughout heavily trafficked shopping areas in San Diego, Phoenix, Detroit and Los Angeles, among other U.S. cities.

Starbucks has spent about $5 million annually on holiday-focused advertising since 2002, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Neither client nor agency would provide specific numbers, but Haven said that Creature was more than able to work within its portion of the 2004 budget.