Thursday, April 15, 2010

Are campaigns like "Big Picture" really effective?

I sure got my travel mug today and got free coffee from Starbucks. Starbucks is offering free coffee today (April 15th) to encourage people to reduce usage of paper cups - read my post about that here. This opens up the debate that whether these kind of programs really work? Here's my take ...

First hand experience - lugging around the travel mug is a pain which I am not ready to do everyday. The coffee was good, but cleaning the travel mug that has a narrow bottom was real pain as well. And God save you in case you got caught up in work / meeting and the leftover coffee in the travel mug dries up - cleaning it will require way more effort than you can imagine. These are the non-material negatives to using the travel mug.

Now coming to the material aspect - buying a travel mug costs some dough and if you go in for a "cool" one, get ready to be set back by at least 10 bucks. But that's only one time for however long you can manage to hold onto the mug. However, washing the travel mug with (running) hot water and soap after every use will require investing in soap & scrubber, add to the bill for heating water and use up your time {Remember - Time = Money!}. Also, producing the energy to heat the water may not be exactly soft on the planet either - but we may not know or notice that exactly.

Now for the psychological aspect of this issue. Most people will take this campaign as an opportunity to get *FREE* coffee. Many people may even drive extra miles just for this and in the process end up spending the cost of the coffee on gas instead! And from the very next day - most people will revert to their normal routine and use (and throw away) paper cups, tissues, plastic cutlery left and right as usual. Very very very few people would actually have a change of heart and
change their habits in a single attempt of such a one day campaign.

Even if I had not got the chance to get the free coffee, I would have sub-consciously noted that this is a good company which I should patronize the next time I am going to buy a product that they offer. This gives the company huge advantage over the competition. So in the end, what is gained is that people got free coffee and the company scores brownie points for being & encouraging people to go green as well as get a lot of cheap, effective & useful advertisement.

So, what do you think? And what would you do?!


Anonymous said...

The effort is definitely a genuine one, in my opinion from the point of view of shareholders. It helps in adding entries in "Corporate Social Responsibility" also. Some people like it too -

Darshan Shah said...

I don't deny that I love it too. But the main point here is what is the end result and the final effect?!


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