YouTube Tuesday: Starbucks’ Nonfat YouTube Channel

This post is part of Rassak’s “YouTube Tuesdays Plus” featuring mini critiques of product and service videos (plus other digital brand experiences). New on Tuesdays. Don’t miss one, subscribe.

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I really like Starbucks. One of my favorite times is when it’s really quiet at  ~ 5:30 AM. I’ll ask for my coffee “for here”—which means it comes in a nice, heavy mug. I like how it tastes good to me. I like how the WiFi works consistently.  I like how there are plugs for my laptop. I like how they’re actually open that early.

I’m not exactly sure how I came across a Starbucks YouTube video—but I did. And then I began digging deeper into their 250-video-strong YouTube channel. And I was bored. Their channel gets a lot right, but it gets the most important thing wrong. It’s not interesting. And it could be soooooo interesting.

Catching the worm...
Catching the worm… early morning solitude at Starbucks, Noe Valley, San Francisco

Starbucks as an organization is very interesting. I read and loved Pour Your Heart Into It, CEO Howard Schulz story of how he grew the business from a very small affair into somehing amazing. I have included snippets of Schulz’ wisdom in talks I have given: see 06:47 below, for example. So Starbucks most certainly has the raw ingredients for creating great material.

Their content strategy (AKA their “hmmmm, what should we make videos about?” strategy) is right on. They have more than 250 videos up and they’re a mix of how-to, coffee flavor introductions, inspiring-y stories about customers and employees, and behind the scenes looks at their business.

Their distribution strategy (how they ensure viewers see the videos) seems weak though. They could far better leverage their huge retail footprint and WiFi in their stores to make the videos available to people. Perhaps they too feel the videos aren’t quite ready for primetime.

From a purely technical standpoint, they’ve done a nice, high-quality job with these videos. Look at Dan as he delivers coffee to cancer patients in Michigan. Look at the shot, for example, at 01:14 as he walks upstairs with his cups of coffee. And there are many examples of this technical prowess (which also means bigger budget, BTW).

So what’s bugging me? A lack of personality. A lack of true humanity. No real little details. No vulnerability. A certain, well, nonfat, skimmilkyness. Look again at Schulz video above. He comes across as awesome but also as human. And all the more awesome for his humanity. Same’s true for his book. But where’s the chink in their armor in these videos? 

Take a look at this “Behind the Scenes in the Supply Chain” video.. they tell you how complex it is, they tell you (at least twice) that this is the best coffee you can buy… but despite the visual behind-the-scenes-ness of the hard hats and the spreadsheets, it’s a snoozer. What do you really learn? What is in here to really care about? Where is there, “In the shower…. alone” moment?

I haven’t looked at all 254 videos. Do you agree with me? Or do you see something you like?

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