While I'm not surprised coffee sales are down (what sales aren't down right now) I was surprised to hear that Starbucks is launching their first ever television advertising campaign today in an effort to combat their slowdown in sales. Reportedly sales starting slipping after their price increase in July (no surprise there, there's only so much you can gauge people for coffee before they take their business elsewhere). In addition to the television campaign, Starbucks will also work on improving the in-cafe experience and will introduce more innovative beverages to the menu.
You can watch one of the television spots on Starbucks' website, but if you're like me you'll be disappointed. It's a cutesy reindeer and man sharing a cup o coffee on a ski lift, snowflakes falling, soothing music in the background and the call to action of "pass the cheer." Viewers wont even know it's an ad for Starbucks unless they stick through the whole ad.
While television advertising is still a great way to reach a lot of people (provided they're not zapping the commercials with Tivo or the like) it's probably not the best way for Starbucks to reach the masses. I would encourage Starbucks to concentrate their marking dollars on experiential methods like free samples of the holiday drinks for the masses of tired shoppers schlepping through malls everywhere trying to find that perfect gift. It would be cheaper, Starbucks would have a captive audience, and it would be able to showcase its best asset, the "Starbucks experience."
Though it should be noted that the Starbucks campaign is the talk of the blogosphere right now, so even if the ads are a flop, they're still getting the attention they were looking for.