Starbucks Case Study: White Cup Contest

On April 22nd, Starbucks decided that they were getting too many submissions of customers decorating their cups and getting no recognition. Because of this, Starbucks decided to funnel all of this creativity into a #WhiteCupContest. 51b8526c011c242402afbbfb535bae6c

Participants must create an original design on a white Starbucks cup and post it to Instagram or Twitter. The winner’s design will be produced on a limited edition cup to go out in fall of 2014. On Instagram alone there have been over two thousand submissions since the contest opened.

In allowing customers to be able to take full creative control in the contest, Starbucks is allowing their customers to not only enjoy their coffee, but enjoy their artistic abilities. Starbucks has aggregated submissions through their Pinterest page, including another form of online branding and media. Check out the Pinterest page here.

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 So how does this contest aid in Starbucks brand image? In order to determine the positive effects of this contest, first we need to determine what makes up the Starbucks experience? What do you think of when you think of Starbucks?

wordle1 In surveying five different people, the main words I collected were:

  • Coffee
  • Studying
  • Atmosphere
  • Creative
  • Cup
  • Art

Starbucks is known for fostering a creative atmosphere in all of their stores. Whether it’s meeting a group, studying for a final, or working on your latest sketch, Starbucks stores are there for your creative (and caffeine) needs.

The #WhiteCupContest falls directly in line with this creative and innovative image. The ingenious idea to aggregate all of these creative ideas enhances and furthers Starbucks’ brand. The best aspect of this campaign is that Starbucks’ only job in the contest is to track the submissions, while customers are the marketers.


Interested in participating? Check out the official rules here.

And don’t forget the Guidelines for Art:

– 1/2 inch horizontal space must remain clear on top and bottom
– Cup design will only be printed in four colors, one of which must be the logo color 3425 Pantone.
– Manipulation to the Siren logo is not allowed.
– No gradients, glitter, metallics or translucent paints can be printed.

 Or keep up-to-date on submissions and check the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.


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