Competition Corporate America Creativity Marketing Starbucks

A free extra shot for every neighborhood coffee shop in the U.S.

A free extra shot at Starbucks’ expense, that is.

This week and last, the news feeds and blogs are abuzz (sorry…) with stories about the defective Chinese-made mugs that Starbucks (SBUX) is selling in their stores (I wonder if the ones I saw in the Staples gift packs last Monday are on the list…)

Eventually, the Feds (via the Consumer Product Safety Commission) got involved and a recall resulted.

The problem: when hot coffee is put into the mugs, the handles detach. Result: hot coffee + gravity = something not normally suited for 140-180 degree F coffee might get SingeBucked. Ouch.

Oddly enough, Reuters called it a “minor burn hazard”, but from where I sit (literally), a cup full of 140 degree coffee suddenly dropped in my lap isn’t exactly a MINOR issue. That’s enough to make Austin Powers lose his MoJo(e).

The marketing opportunities for those who compete with Starbucks are limitless.

For example, I haven’t yet seen a marketing piece that notes that Starbucks wasn’t satisfied with burning their beans, now they sell mugs that let you burn YOURS as well.

“New gift packs from Starbucks include the defective Chinese mugs and asbestos-lined boxers.”

Quality control would be a good topic.

“We steam the milk, they steam your clothes.”

You get the idea. The independent coffee shop could have as much fun with that as they like. I haven’t heard Leno in a while, but I suspect he might give you some ideas as well – unless the writers’ strike decaffeinates the jokes.