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The Caffeine Challenge

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Fall is coming. While most people are thinking of autumn leaves or starting school, I’m thinking of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.
For the second year in a row, Starbucks executed a notable social media campaign to generate buzz for their highly anticipated seasonal beverage. Rather than simply submitting a vote, users were invited to complete various online challenges and tasks to bring back the popular latte to their cities a week before the drink’s official release date.  Some of the challenges involved simple games like crossword puzzles or answering trivia questions based on Starbucks’ online videos.  In addition, including the “#PSLChallenge” hashtag to your wall posts or tweets on Facebook and Twitter would garner even more points for one’s city. The city with the most points by August 24, 2012, will be rewarded with the debut of the Pumpkin Spice Latte one week earlier than the rest of the country; Leavenworth, WA took the win.
For the most dedicated drinkers, this is a darn near perfect reward. An earlier debut adds a special element to this already popular product and gives the consumer an illusion of empowerment. By participating in the challenge, passionate fans were able to share their excitement with their online communities and generate additional hype for their beloved beverage.
For your average consumer, Starbucks’ promotion still served its purpose—it let us know the latte is back! Whether one was excited about the challenge or not, by seeing others participate, they were exposed to the product virally through tweets, news feeds, and word of mouth. This exposure undoubtedly helps maximize awareness for Starbucks’ other products and offers, which will likely result in a boost in overall sales this upcoming holiday season.
As for me, nothing welcomes the new season better than the flavors that come with it.

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