5 Bold Moves Starbucks Made in a Month That Have People Buzzing

With digital at the core

Even for a busy brand, Starbucks has been unusually active since Labor Day. Here are a handful of intriguing plays by the Seattle-based java giant in the last few weeks.

1. Go global with a local appeal

On Sept. 29, the brand debuted its first global advertising endeavor, highlighting the true stories of people who meet at the coffee shop every day. Created by 72andSunny, the campaign dubbed "Meet me at Starbucks" centers on a five-minute video that was plucked from 220 hours of footage shot during a 24-hour period in 59 stores. It involved 28 countries, 39 filmmakers and 10 local photographers. Yeah, that's pretty cool.

2. Give Square the cold shoulder

It's well known that CEO Howard Schultz and his team want Starbucks to be a big player in the mobile payment space. But perhaps their most intriguing move was something they didn't do: jump on board with Square's coffee-based payment solution called Square Order.

Two years ago, Starbucks invested $25 million in Square but ultimately decided to create its own app, which will debut later this year. The decision will "ensure it has adequate scale and includes its own customer loyalty programs," Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills told Bloomberg.

3. Diversify its store concepts

On Sept. 5, the coffee brewer unveiled two new models for its brick-and-mortar stores. The Starbucks Reserve model highlights the company’s growing range of small-batch java. The second is an express format that will feature a more limited menu and will be designed to move customers through the store quicker. While test stores will appear in Seattle in December, Starbucks plans to roll out around 100 of them during the coming year.

4. Team with Tumblr

Two weeks ago, Starbucks appeared as the "Sponsored Tumblr Dot" on National Coffee Day. It was the first brand to appear via the ad unit, buying itself a valuable position on the millennial-friendly site and sparking conversations about coffee that day.

5. Use hyperlapse Instagram video to leverage autumnal imagery

Lastly, the coffee behemoth has been killing it with Instagram videos for months. But it's 15-second spot on Sept. 23 did a marvelous job appealing to the platform's Gen Y demographic, filming footage of young adults driving amid fall leaves and pumpkins. Pumpkin Spice Latte lovers were likely particularly engaged with the social video.