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Starbucks: Coffee Choice of Dragon Queens

Posted by Jourdan Cole on Thu, May 9, 2019 @ 9:00 AM

Those familiar with HBO know that there are no commercials coffee-1281880_1920during their shows.

It’s also less than likely a modern product will show up in an episode, especially in Game of Thrones. But this past Sunday, somebody left a coffee cup in a major scene. And it did NOT go unnoticed.

If this was a normal product placement deal, Starbucks would pay for the ad and then pay more to promote the ad.

But since HBO does not pay for product placement or ads during their show, this is now considered earned media. Lucky for them.

Read more to learn what the value of this accidental mention is to Starbucks in terms of PR.

This season, HBO actually partnered with several brands to tap into specific demographics’ likes and interests. Bud Light, Adidas, Oreo, Shake Shack and even OKCupid were just a few HBO partnered with to use their brand recognition.

Now let’s talk about the additional earned media that comes from this accidental placement. This cup was featured in articles on every major platform from Buzzfeed to the NYTimes, it was mentioned in podcasts, on the local nightly news, CNN and even on YouTube videos. People were talking about it everywhere.

The kicker is that this wasn’t even a Starbucks cup! The white and brown cup has become so synonymous with the coffee giant that the internet was quick to pick this recognizable brand as king.

While this mention was accidental, this is the kind of work pr pros dream of everyday!

Driving Engagement 

PR professionals work behind the scenes to unite brands and influencers to create buzz and drive traffic. Whether it's creating a video, an influencer curated collection of products, or banning together for an important cause like National Pollinator Week, there’s a lot of strategizing and planning that goes into making partnerships like this effective. And there’s a lot at stake, too. Successful partnerships are built on both parties not causing their audience to feel alienated by the other brand or influencer.

But without an accidental cup placement, how are you to drive engagement and brand recognition? 


  1. Get to Know Your Audience. Even if you think you know your audience because you built it, dive deeper. What can you provide your audience that is new, exciting or a never before seen that they need? Facebook reports that once a person likes your brand page, you have two weeks to capture their attention. If they don't engage with your brand in those two weeks, your content is no longer shown to them. AKA, you're DOA.
  2. Narrow Down Your Objectives. Having a successful platform means something different to every brand. Are you looking to drive awareness to a particular audience? Drive engagement for liking, sharing or commenting? Make a sale? Visit a website? Whatever it is needs to be your main focus. Once you determine what you are trying to get across, you can change your strategy to focus on one of these topics.
  3. Diversify Platforms. If you are working on multiple platforms, be strong on all of them, not just one. Cross promote as much as possible. You don't need to come up with entire new copy, but change it to fit the platform you are on. For example, Facebook doesn't do well with hashtags, but Instagram and Twitter thrive on them. Know what each platform desires. 
  4. Don't Do It Alone. There is a reason influencers have a space on the internet. When audiences see real people with real shapes, skin tones, realistic looking gardens and personalities, they are more likely to resonate with that person and therefore that brand. Think about it like sisters. The little sister is always wanting to look just like her cooler big sister, so she dresses like her, acts like her and wants to buy the same things as her. Find an influencer or two that matches your ideas, goals and mission.

Want to talk more about earned media and influencer marketing? Reach out!

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Topics: Public Relations Trends

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