Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) is an institution, with previous campaigns establishing the drink as a social and cultural icon. But Manning Gottlieb OMD faced several challenges promoting the drink in 2018. It had to work with a vastly reduced budget and a growing backlash to the tried and tested ‘promote PSL as a status symbol’ approach.
The solution was to offer PSL fans something that acknowledged the ‘basic’ in us, by creating some witty stickers and gifs with Instagram and sharing them with a ‘Pumpkin Head’ audience.
While gifs could be created, however, they couldn’t be promoted, as Giphy, the gif partner of Instagram, didn’t offer advertising. It was back to the drawing board - literally. Thousands of stories were analysed to explore how the brand appeared and what images, phrases and styles were used positively around PSL. Manning Gottlieb OMD then hand-drew 12 images and tagged and optimised these like a web page, with multiple keywords, sizes and sub-categories.
Within 48 hours, the gifs were shared one million times; a week later, shares hit four million. The campaign delivered a global reach of 18.5m, surpassing sales of PSL to the point of sell-through by week three of the six-week campaign, all whilst maintaining positive sentiment and brand love of 85%.