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Starbucks “Pumpkin Like It’s 2003”

Entered in Food & Beverage


It’s hard to believe that fall existed before the Pumpkin Spice Latte, but in 2003, Starbucks first introduced the iconic drink — and changed the season forever. In October of 2023, Starbucks and SPARK (Starbucks’ media agency) challenged us with finding a buzzworthy way to celebrate the drink’s 20th birthday. They wanted to hero the PSL in a way that would resonate and drive engagement with an audience of both Gen Z and Millennial fans. 


Ultimately, we decided that the best way to say happy birthday to the PSL was with a song. Once we knew that we wanted to create an original music video for Starbucks, we decided to join forces with Ashanti, an iconic star who was also celebrating 20 years of success — her sophomore album, Chapter II, was released in 2003. 

After analyzing Starbucks’ target audience, we leaned into a mix of two Dotdash Meredith brands: Byrdie, known for its authentic, diverse, younger-leaning voice (to appeal to a Gen Z audience), and PEOPLE, our iconic pop culture and entertainment brand (to appeal to Millennials). Together with Ashanti, we created a buzzworthy cross-platform content campaign.

Program elements included: 

We wanted our content to feel as authentic as possible, and sampling sounds from Ashanti’s original 2003 hit “Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)” was a must. This was a challenge from a legal point of view, as we had to acquire music rights from Ashanti’s record label. It was not an easy process, but we ultimately made it work, and we know that one of the reasons reception of our campaign was so positive was that Ashanti’s iconic music and signature sounds were so organically integrated into the creative. 

Cheers to the PSL!


Our total content engagement rates were nearly 4x benchmark averages, and our custom TikTok garnered more than 5.6 million views across platforms, indicating reach and exposure at scale. Ashanti's own organic posts had more than 1.6 million views, and overall sentiment was incredibly positive with a range of celebrities and brands joining the conversation to congratulate our two icons on celebrating 20 years. Commenters included Old Navy, DoorDash, Delta Airlines, Ja Rule, Fat Joe, and more.


Video for Starbucks “Pumpkin Like It’s 2003”

Entrant Company / Organization Name

The Foundry at Dotdash Meredith in partnership with SPARK, Starbucks


Entry Credits