On Earth Day, Starbucks decided to give away free coffees to anyone who brought in a travel mug.

A great promotion that works with its “green” image, and of course the whole Earth Day thing, right? Well yeah, but starbucksthere’s just one issue: I’m pretty sure most people didn’t know about it.

I’m not the biggest fan of Starbucks coffee. I prefer Tim Hortons, and that’s not going to change, but I a) enjoy anything that’s free, and b) really liked the idea of not using a paper cup, therefore helping the environment. I grabbed my Maple Leafs travel mug from the cupboard and threw it in my bag before heading to work.

While I was on the 504 streetcar coasting along King Street, I kept on the lookout for people with travel mugs and long lineups.

I saw none of that.

I became a little worried. Did twitter fail me? Were these just rumours and I’d been ‘had’? Feeling a little skeptical, I got off the streetcar and went in to get my coffee, free or not.

When I went in, I didn’t see a single promotional sign, and same as before, people didn’t have their travel mugs. I got in line and pulled my mug out. I gave my order and mug, but I also got a Toonie out to pay for it, just in case. When I finally got up to pay, the cashier rung it up but then said it’s on the house, to my relief.

coffeeSo it turns out the coffee was free, and I enjoyed it to the last drop.

From a communications perspective, Starbucks could’ve promoted this initiative a little more and actually done something beneficial for the environment, but did it really want to?

I saw a few ads in the online world, and I heard about it randomly on twitter (if you heard about it elsewhere let me know). This is fine, and I’m sure  a lot of people took advantage of it, but I really wish it had done  something simple: promote the giveaway in shops the day before and day of. My theory is they didn’t want to because, as you can expect, a lot more people would be coming in looking for free java, therefore costing them a lot of coin.

Do you think Starbucks did a good job promoting the giveaway?