Starbucks, Drake, and #StarbucksDrakeHands

October 12, 2013

It seems that the perfect mix of absurdity, audacity, and authenticity (and some other a-word adjectives) have come together to create the most recent internet meme: #StarbucksDrakeHands. As quite possibly the first Instagram video meme, #StarbucksDrakeHands is absolutely loaded with pop culture symbols: It’s a selfie video layered on top of a hit single and completed with a hashtag that includes not only the name of a popular rap artist, but also the largest coffee chain in the world.

Needless to say, I was tickled pink when I discovered our artists at Bitstrips were able to quickly produce a timely comic for the app. Jumping on a meme isn’t easy. It needs to be relevant to your brand, free of negative implications, and timing is everything; you have to strike while the iron is hot. On the internet this could give you a window of anywhere from a few days to a few hours to produce and distribute relevant content – and it’s an almost impossible formula to figure out. So while I was delighted to see Bitstrips swoop in at the exact right moment, I couldn’t help but be curious as to where Starbucks, or even Drake for that matter, has been during this brief phenomenon.

In a previous post I alluded to the fact that Starbucks doesn’t exactly seem to have ‘poke fun at ourselves’ / ‘entertaining and funny’ as one of their pillars of communication. Currently their digital team is in the midst of promoting feel good, pay it forward, stop the government shut-down campaigns. And to be fair, #StarbucksDrakeHands is giving them some harmless free publicity, so engagement with the meme may be read as pandering. Their brand name has already been inserted as a part of this particular cultural dialogue – there’s no need to hit you over the head with it. As I mentioned earlier, jumping on a meme can be a complicated business where ‘staying out of it’ is a worthy approach. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but dream up a few ways that Starbucks (and Drake) could capitalize on #StarbucksDrakeHands.

1. Free iTunes Download

Starbucks offers free iTune downloads to customers who visit their stores. One of these songs could “We’re Going Home” – the track by Drake featured in the meme. It would take a quick bit of finagling with Drake’s label, and a change of schedule here and there, but it would be nice little hat tip to the people of the internet. It also fits quite nicely with their current operations.

2. Starbucks Mermaid Does Drake Hands

Have a graphic designer quickly draw up a new version of the Starbucks mermaid mimicking the #StarbucksDrakeHands pose. Use the image as the Starbucks profile picture for a couple of days. Watch it go viral.

3. Drake ‘Nothing Was the Same’ Album

This meme hit at the perfect time for Drake. He’s just released a new album and his first single is part of a popular meme. As another subtle nod to #StarbucksDrakeHands Starbucks could sell or play the album in stores. You’re already married on the internet via hashtag, might as well strike a deal in real life too.

4. Locating #StarbucksDrakeHands

Collaborate with Foursquare and Instagram by offering free coffee to users who pin their #StarbucksDrakeHands Instagram videos at actual Starbucks locations.

5. Participate!

Encourage Starbucks staff members and baristas to participate in #StarbucksDrakeHands while in their uniform. Encourage them to get creative and post the best staff contributions on Facebook.

6. Literal #StarbucksDrakeHands

Jump on Instagram and produce a quick 7 second video breaking down the meme hashtag: Quick shots of Starbucks, Drake, Drake’s hands and a final shot of Drake in the #StarbucksDrakeHands pose. Starbucks and Drake are huge brands and a collaborative, fun response to the meme could change the course of how it is transmitted and replicated.


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