Starbucks wants to help you with your communication problems. Just spend more time sitting in one of its shops talking to a real live person instead of text messaging.
In a series of new ads from BBDO, the coffee chain plays up the difference between the spoken and written word by showing text-message conversations which voice actors also say out loud at the same time—with real subtext instead of cutesy emoji and bad grammar.
In one of the spots, a man tries to figure out if he's still in the doghouse with a love interest. In another, a woman tries to get the skinny on her friend's date the night before. In a third, a father sets his daughter's mind at ease.
About halfway through each, the screen goes blank, but the voiceovers continue, and it turns out there's a lot more going on in each scenario than is at first apparent.
The message is nice, simple, clear and easy to identify with in an era dominated by smartphones and their pitfalls—not just the losses in translation wrought by a format that favors brevity, but also the constant distraction from one's immediate surroundings, and the people in them. The takeaway is also deftly illustrated in the visual minimalism of the ads, reminiscent of other powerful text-and-tech-based commercials that tap into the connected-24-7 zeitgeist like Google's classic "Parisian Love" and Honda's more recent PSAs against texting and driving.
It's also a bit of an straw man argument that seems to try to prey on popular handwringing about new technology's adverse effects. The premise—that people rely on text messaging as an equivalent replacement for face-to-face contact with the other people they actually want to see—doesn't also hold true. Also, miscommunications happen plenty when two people are sitting across each other at a table. But maybe if humans hang around Starbucks longer, they'll buy more stuff.
Regardless, all the people in the ads are talking way too slow for people who've been guzzling coffee. Plus, don't they have somewhere else they need to be?
Title: "Conversation Films"
Agency: BBDO New York
Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
Executive Creative Director: Dennis Lim
Executive Creative Director: Juliana Cobb
Senior Copywriter: Dana Stalker
Associate Creative Director: Rachel Frederick
Director of Integrated Production: David Rolfe
Senior Producer: Becky Burkhard
Director of Music: Rani Vaz
Music Producer: John Melillo
Worldwide Senior Account Director: Brandon Fowler
Account Manager: Catherine Wright
Account Executive: Miranda Hardy
Director: Peter Jensen
Audio Post House: Sound Lounge
Sound Engineer: Tom Jucarone
Sound Engineer: Glen Landrum
Sound Engineer: Pat Christensen
Executive Producer: Vicky Ferraro
Edit House: Go Robot
Editor: Adam Liebowitz
Editor: Joe Kriksciun
Animator: Christian Matts
Top photo: rekre89/Flickr Creative Commons