Starbucks Cups Get Augmented for the Holidays

By Bob Marshall 

Ahhh, November. For ad agencies, it’s a time to start planning for SXSWi before every hotel in Austin fills up. It’s also the month where advertising pros suddenly realize, “Whoa. We gotta figure out our agency holiday card before it’s too late.”

For some creative inspiration, look to Starbucks’ and digital agency Blast Radius’ use of augmented reality to make a simple coffee cup come to life. Though AR is one technology-focused marketing practice that still carries a lot of “wow” factor, it can also be one of the least practical ways to interact with customers. For a recent example of where this can be tricky, look to VW’s recent use of AR to promote the new Beetle. Awe-inspiring? Definitely. Enough to make a consumer whip out his or her iPad on a busy city street? Maybe, but would you?


Now, think about someone who gets a Grande Pike Place every morning from Starbucks before work. (I know it tarnishes my hipster-cred, but there’s one close to my office, alright? Haters to the left.)  From the comfort of an office, where a mobile device can be accessed without being stolen, this is something with a payoff greater than the effort needed to download the app. And, the wonderful thing about this app brimming with Christmas cheer is that it’s available for both iOS and Android devices, something that, due to the necessary development time, most brands aren’t willing do with their mobile content. So, cheers to Blast Radius for creating an augmented reality experience that consumers can easily take part in from the comfort of just about anywhere. The app will be available from the App Store and the Android Marketplace on Tuesday.