The limited time, “flavor-changing, color changing, totally not-made-up Unicorn Frappuccino” that Starbucks recently released is a completely made-up marketing scheme designed to prey on the weakest consumers in capitalist America – just ask your barista.
The only thing “magical” about this “unicorn” Frappuccino is its ability to make you waste your money. As a public relations major, I’m usually all for an amazing marketing stunt, but this was so blatantly a slap in the face to consumer ignorance I can’t support it.
Starbucks knows its market well, which is why they can sell a drink with 59 grams of sugar, 410 calories (140 from fat!) and 16 grams of fat (10 grams of which are saturated fat) without the public batting an eye. By naming it the “unicorn” Frappuccino they remove the drink from something a consumer will actually consume, and make it into an “experience” and an image.
Whether you stood in line for hours or minutes to buy a Unicorn Frappuccino, you weren’t buying it because you needed it or even specifically wanted to taste it. Whether you realized it or not, you bought a Unicorn Frappuccino because Starbucks marketed it so that if you didn’t try it, you’d be missing out on an element of pop culture.
With almost 150,000 posts under the hashtag #unicornfrappuccino on Instagram, it is safe to say many individuals purchased one “for the Insta.” I’m not against doing something for the Insta, so long as it is something that betters you. Go for a hike to post a picture of the view, spend time with friends to get a group shot, go to the beach – don’t waste your money on a colored drink with an excessive amount of sugar that you might not even like.
By purchasing a Unicorn Frappuccino you’re subjecting yourself to partake in a social experiment of the American market which is: will individuals will drop any amount of money and disregard nutrition for the latest trend?
The trend here involves mystical creatures, as women especially have increasingly become obsessed with being, dressing like or embodying a mermaid, unicorn, fairy or more. For reference, Starbucks also makes “The Pokémon GO Frappuccino,” which is equally as bad in nutrition and even more evidently marketed through a fad.
Starbucks tested the limits of American free will by bypassing all individual decision-making. You didn’t decide to buy this drink – society decided you had to.
What angers me the most about the Unicorn Frappuccino is not even the fact that Starbucks preyed on consumers, but that we as a society allowed them to. Watching America’s “basic white girls” go crazy over this Unicorn Frappuccino was equivalent to watching children go crazy over a new toy.
It is infuriating that Starbucks can put the word “unicorn” in front of something and make it more desirable. If it was called the “pink sweet and sour sugar ” Frappuccino it would just be another drink. The label “unicorn” even targets women and children, making it yet another product that has to embody society’s stereotypes to make a sale.
Starbucks has every right to exploit our ignorance as much as we allow. I realize I’ll still visit Starbucks and other companies who employ the same marketing tactics – but a there has to be a line. A line in which you recognize the marketing scheme in front of you for what it is: a deception designed to take your money.
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