Evaluating Starbucks’ "Name Your Blend" Contest.

Starbucks-Blonde-Contest-CanadaIf you’re a coffee drinker here in the Great White North, you were likely raised on the Tim Hortons bottle from a very early age.  Tim’s rather bland but comforting blend is entrenched in Canadian culture and has been the “go to” coffee for we Canucks for years.  Our coffee drinking options have expanded in recent years with major players like Starbucks planting its flag in urban and rural centers across our frozen tundra.

Starbucks recently added a new roast to its brewers that they’ve positioned as:

A Starbucks coffee for Canadians who don’t think they like Starbucks coffee

Clearly they’re attempting to make a play to the Canadian masses who find their coffee too strong, burnt and bitter.  In an effort to engage the market socially, Starbucks launched the “Name Your Blend, Canada” contest.

I was cautiously intrigued when I saw a lonely Starbucks staff giving away free coffee on the corner of Richmond and Spadina this morning and decided to give the contest a shot when I walked in to the internet marketing office.  Here were my impressions of the contest from an internet marketer’s perspective and what I believe Starbucks could do better.

Contest Landing Page:

starbucks blonde roast contest

The landing page is clean and simple with one obvious call to action, the registration button.  Starbucks opted to only have Facebook registrations which could potentially limit their entries and exclude non Facebook users, but the social connection and reach that a Facebook post can have outweighs the possible exclusion of non-Facebook users.

I like the display of other entries in a scrolling bar along the bottom.  It shows the possible entrant some real people who’ve participated and gives some example ideas to inspire.

The prize of winning is clearly illustrated and connects to the brand.  The contest winner will receive a trip anywhere in Canada to have coffee with a friend.  Simple, on brand and large enough to make anyone want to enter.

When you connect your Facebook account, you’re not giving Starbucks reems of personal information.  You’re simply allowing access to your Facebook wall (should you choose to post your idea), revealing your email address and location.  The Facebook login pop-up also shows you a list of your friends who are using the app and there by provides an element of trust.

Possible Improvements:

  • None

Contest Entry Page:

Starbucks® Blonde Roast-1Another great example of simplicity can be found on the entry page.  Two simple form fields to use, only one is required (the name).  The entry page includes a tag cloud of terms that have been used to describe the name’s others have submitted.  It also is personalized, grabbing your Facebook name and using it in the title of the page.

As you enter your Blonde Roast name, it simultaneously appears on the product packaging.  This is a simple but effective way for the user to “see their name in lights”, an element of any contest that furthers engagement.  We’re all fascinated by “celebrity” and subconsciously seem to strive for fame.  This programatic element helps the entrant flirt with that notion.

Possible Improvements:

  • None


Successful Completion Page:

Starbucks® Blonde Roast-2Once a user submits their entry, they’re taken to a confirmation page.  Again, we see this page and headline are personalized for the user.  They’re given an option to share their entry with others through Facebook and Twitter.  Finally, Starbucks delivers on their promise of a free coffee for the your troubles… a Blonde Roast (go figure).

Possible Improvements:

  • I believe they should encourage more social sharing of the posts.  I would stop short of encouraging users to share in exchange for a “vote” for their idea but incentivising users to share socially with an additional coffee would likely increase social traffic.
  • Ideally showing the user what their tweet or Facebook post would look like could help steer them towards sharing.
  • Coupons.com - Print A CouponHere’s where Starbucks “missed the boat”… the free coffee coupon.  Starbucks should have made this easier for the end user to receive their coffee.  They chose to partner with a third party coupon provider and force the user to download then print their coupon.  This doesn’t “fit” with Starbucks’ target market and is a disconnect from Starbucks’ very mobile friendly approach to commerce (They have a GREAT app).  Ideally, Starbucks should either email you a coupon that can easily be displayed on your phone, text the coupon or even connect this to their app to automatically add the free coffee to ones account.


I’ve seen many online contests try way to hard to “do everything” as all to often, contest creators clutter a contest with to much choice.  The Starbucks approach is simple and effective and delivers a positive user experience and positive brand experience.  I’m a fan, well done.

Oh… my entry – “Maple North”




About Adam Green

Adam Greenis the Founder of Maple North. Maple North is a toronto internet marketing agency based in Toronto, Canada. Our team specializes in PPC Management, Local SEO, Google Analytics, Social Media Marketing and more.

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