The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

If I Said I Was Sophiticated, Do You Think People Would Pay Me More?
June 26, 2009, 6:04 am
Filed under: Comment

Well as yesterdays post was probably a bit too much for many of you to handle, I thought I’d get back to normal with a rant.

And there you were worrying my new found positivity might have resulted in the end of my cynical streak. Pah.

Right, it’s been a while since I got the shits with Starbucks … but they’ve gone and done it again.

To be honest, I feel a teensy bit sorry for them.

Their staff – at least in Asia – tend to be pretty good and despite their coffee tasting more of milk than caffeine, not to mention their grand relaunch having the impact of a damp squid, they are trying which is better than a hell of a lot of companies I could mention.

Saying that, like Amazon – I don’t really rate them as a brand.

You see to me, a real brand is one that has an irrational emotional connection with a person – where that individual will go out of their way [in some way] to embrace the brand they love over a cheaper/more convenient alternative.

Yes I know that isn’t how many people refer to a great brand – but I have never been of the school of thought that awareness or sales automatically equates to brand adoration.

Anyway that’s an argument for another day … so back to why I’ve got the shits with Starbucks.

Well basically I was in one of their stores when I saw this …

Can you see it?

Come on – surely you can?

Yep, it’s the way they say ‘blended coffee is for sophisticated adults’.


How can a blended coffee mean you are sophisticated?

And why does blended cream [which sounds as appetising as diluted cows blood] mean you are a sophisticated adult or kid.

SOPHISTICATED KID? Are they taking the piss? Unless the word ‘sophisticated’ has been re-defined as ‘complaining little shit who craves sugar rushes and screams till he/her gets it’ I think they might of missed the point.

One of the things that really gets on my nerves – especially in Asia – is the preoccupation of ‘status’.

Seriously, everyone is claiming it … sophisticated cars, sophisticated butter, sophisticated bog roll and now sophisticated bloody blended coffee/cream.

Of course ‘status’ isn’t an attribute unique just to the Asian advertising industry, but my god they embrace it with a gusto that leaves the West in the dust.

What makes it even worse, is the brands that adopt this no-effort-required ‘strategy’ don’t refer to values or sensitivity, they just go straight to the claim – meaning there’s no reason why someone should believe it as well as the fact any competitor could do pretty much the same thing. And they do. Often.

There’s probably quite a few reasons for this … including the expectations placed on the people of Asia interms of what they are expected to achieve, own and deliver … but still, are our lives so miserable that an overpriced bucket of hot, brown water with some contrived ‘badge value’ can make us feel better?

Don’t answer that – but if it’s true, then maybe if Starbucks embraced a strategy of making life miserable for each of their customers, their balance sheet might move from the red back into the black, ha!

I’ve written before how ‘sophisticated’ and/or ‘luxury’ has seemingly become nothing more but a price point and I believe this attitude is screwing everyone over because without celebrating attributes such as craftsmanship, soul, heritage, innovation and/or exclusivity, it means a coffee made by a spotty adolescent can claim to be upmarket, leading the average joe to pay more for something that quite frankly is about as sophisticated as a tramp doing a fart.

Why not go the whole hog Starbucks and print your cups with ‘LACKING SELF ESTEEM’ … you’re pretty much saying that already. [Quick question: how did you know??? 🙂 ]

7 Comments so far
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Michael Jackson has fucked you Rob, no one will come here today, they’re all going to be on youtube checking out videos that don’t look nearly as good as when they first saw them.

But I’m here. Remember that when it comes to will writing time.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Starbucks is McDonalds for posers.

And wtf is with this outpouring of grief for MJ?!? Do people not remember the whole KID THING?!? Jeez

Comment by Sam

oh jesus, billy… are you sophisticated or what? want a coffee?

Comment by peggy

how can you go from a post about the deep connection you have with your dad to fucking shit about starbucks? youve got multiple personality disorder and all of them are fucking boring as batshit. (i was too nice to you yesterday, dont want you getting the wrong idea)

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m confused Robert, doesn’t everyone drink their silly named coffees for their liquid sophistication properties?
(copyright Starbucks 2009)

Comment by Bazza

Bollocks I missed this post while under the pressure of learning the rent boy trade on Hong Kong. So underpaid *mops brow*

Great post. All that superalative language shit has completely perverted the advertising business in Asia and it is all about “lacking in self esteem” as if it were about some girl split up from her family while fleeing Chiang Kai Sheks forces in Shanghai and having to acknowledge that marriage to another ethnic group were the only way to keep one’s standard of living. Then discovering that the love had all gone and that it was really about money.

That would make me feel lonely too. Maybe take a prurient interest in other peoples lives because the vacuum inside of me was inconsolable.

I’m dribbling on a bit but the reason this terrific post (yet another unrecognised classic for the Asian ad industry) comprised of people of all ethnic groups like the rest of the fucking world (so deal with it) struck a nerve with me is that I had an advertising hard on last night.

No I wasn’t dreaming about my former landlady though I bet she was hot in her day and frankly her daughter from Chicago who I checked out on Facebook isn’t so ropey either…anyway….. I was sitting in McDonalds last night, having a burger meal as I’m on dwindling dollar supplies, as I wait for the Hong Kong financial bail out (which should be any day now) to appear and I spyied the most awesome stock photography shots.

None of that smiley happy preternaturally beatiful saccharine spattered superlative shit that the Asian ad industry laps up (though I think DTAC did some really inbteresting slice of life work a few years back)

No it was a picture of a young guy, On his own slouched back in those uncomfortable seats looking like he was saying to himself thank fuck it’s Friday and I can switch off because I’ve had a shit week. He wasn’t smiling. He was the ONLY person on the platform. Shot in black and white and MOST importantly he didn’t have a burger in his hand.

Comment by Charles

I’m on some LINUX puter at a net cafe so onwards with this award winning comment.

So. No burger in his hand. No McDonalds logo on his cock. No shake in his hand. No nothing. It was No Logo and yet it was ALL about McDonalds. I related to him, Everyone related to him. He uses public transport. He’s watching his dollars. He’s a nice guy and he’s just pulled a late evening, late night because that’s life.

It was small and yet for Asia it was HUGE. I’ve never seen such honesty since that DTAC campaign in Thailand that kicked the white Chinese plutocracy off their armpit SKIN WHITENING ads and all that air brushed shit which implies the Chinese don’t take a shit and let in that part of the population that is both the majority, the ethnic centre, the hardest working and with the least opportunities given to them in a way that the Occidental world would define has home grown racism given the health and education opportunities.

More real life in advertising and I agree totally with that brand definition. I recently said that a brand works on the quasi religious level to “I’ll have the red package soap poweder, not the blue” which is how it works in poor parts of Asia that only the NGO’s from the West seem interested in.

But it’s that irrational end of the equation that is most interesting and often least dependent on advertising.

Comment by Charles

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