The Other Starbucks Scavenger Hunt

Do you have a friend or colleague who thinks they know everything about mobile marketing? Ask them to tell you about the Starbucks mobile scavenger hunt. They will almost certainly begin to describe the current QR Code digital game called SRCH in which Starbucks has partnered with Lady Gaga. At some point you can exclaim “No, not that one. That’s their second mobile scavenger hunt, I was asking about their first in in 2006”. There should follow a long silence 🙂

Yes it is true and I asked Mark Bees, who was then the owner of the company that provided the technology, if he would share his thoughts on both campaigns with 2d-code readers. Mark is now Vice President of Product and Business Development at Valassis Interactive and their consumer brand RedPlum, here is his reply. Thank you Mark!

The US mobile environment has changed in so many ways since my company enabled Starbucks’ first mobile scavenger hunt in the summer of 2006. The “Starbucks Summer Pursuit” was an interactive game that involved consumers receiving text message clues upon opting into the game via a short code. From there players were instructed to give a response either via text message or more interestingly – visually hunt for the answer in the physical world then snap and sent a photo from their camera phone to my company Mobot Inc. Mobot’s patented technology used mobile visual image recognition to recognize the sent photo, match the image and determine if the player has successfully solved each clue. New clues were sent on a daily basis and users could play along until the completion of the game. Starbucks gave players small rewards along the way redeemable at www.starbucks.com. The fine people at Chicago based PR firm Edelman brought Mobot in to concept and enable this game designed to promote a new line of iced fruit beverages that were being launched that summer.

This years’ Starbucks game looks like the next logical progression of that basic idea – some of the elements of which we could have only dreamed of in 06. There are many examples that illustrate just how far we have come. Today we have actual smart phones and the associated applications that run on them including the necessary bar code reading software to play the game. This was just on the horizon in the summer of 06, but I’m not sure anyone could see just how dramatically the iphone and app store was about to change everything as we knew it. Placing readable bar codes in-store on walls, posters and displays is a perfect way to enable game-play, another breakthrough in that such a large consumer brand would be willing to use their own stores and marketing materials to promote a game involving bar code scanning. Also, searching for a bar code while in a Starbucks location and scanning it delivers an immediate and rewarding experience for the player, this combined with available rich media content on mobile and also on Starbucks’ web site gives the game much more depth of experience. Finally add in a global pop superstar sensation with millions of mobile, social media savvy rabid fans to the mix and you can start to see how this promotion could easily bring a new level of brand to consumer engagement via mobile to North America.

1 thought on “The Other Starbucks Scavenger Hunt”

  1. My wife and I were the grand prize winners of that original Summer Pursuit scavenger hunt! 🙂

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