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Special Project

Special Project
From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

Starbucks Barista Call Outs

Winner in Call to Action

Entered in Instagram


The global pandemic led lockdown went live in India from March 2020. As a result, Starbucks outlets all over the country had to shut operations (walk-ins, takeaways and deliveries) completely. For a brand that prides itself on its unique offline experience, the brand faced a risk of losing brand love among even die-hard loyalists (in the absence of a product/ service).

Starbucks hence, wanted to find a way to keep the brand connected with its community albeit on a very tight budget. The objective was to remind people why they love Starbucks in the first place but do it completely online. Along with engagement on social media. Starbucks had to reassure customers that even in uncertain times there was hope that some amount of normalcy would be restored in the months ahead.

Strategy and Execution

Target audience: Starbucks Regulars

Two insights were observed in the world of a Starbucks regular:

  1. External – They began to message the brand on social media expressing how much they missed visiting the café
  2. Internal – The calling out of orders with the customer’s name is unique to Starbucks and is heard in cafés across the world

Our Approach: To marry the two insights into a virtual Starbucks experience in a manner reminiscent of its offline experience on Instagram, where we have the most vocal and interactive audience.

Launch: Instagram post with a hopeful message and a caption asking followers to share their favourite drinks (Java Chip Frappuccino, Caramel Macchiato, etc.) with the brand, in return for a surprise

The surprise: The brand recorded barista call-outs for these drinks via Instagram voice notes (from home) and these virtual call-outs were then delivered via direct messages (DM's) on Instagram. In a brand first move, the call-out ended with the phrase "see you soon" to signal the hope of things getting back to normal.

The sound of a happy memory always makes you happy. The Barista Call-out is the most strongly associated aspect of a Starbucks experience. Starbucks regulars are used to and enjoy, in fact even look forward to hearing their name called out with their order. By enabling the sound of the Barista Call-Out, the brand managed to revive a joyful connection with its loyalists.

Timeline: 7 days

Amplification: The brand sent popular celebs, influencers and brands who were following Starbucks’ Instagram handle, their own virtual call-outs too, who then shared those call-outs on their Instagram stories.

Stories shared by happy customers featuring their personalized call-outs were re-grammed and received tremendous traction.

Budget: 150 USD spent in promoting the post

The Starbucks digital touch points were traditionally a receiver of brand love expressed by the brand loyalists. During the lockdown when all cafe outlets were shut, the digital touch points were turned into active brand love generators for a span of one week targeting brand loyalists. This was done through a unique activity that the brand had never done before.



Entrant Company / Organization Name

WATConsult, Tata Starbucks