"I went to the Starbucks at the [redacted] campus today in between classes to pick up a drink. I was in a pretty good mood and I left the store with my drink. On my way to class, I noticed that the Barista had a better name for me. (See the picture attached). I have no clue what made the person write that. I wasn't mean at all. I don't think I'll be going back. That's too bad for Starbucks since I usually go 1-2 times per day. I'll be taking my business to Peet's Coffee.” – "Why Did Starbucks Write "Big D*ck" On My Drink Cup?" on The Consumerist.
This weird instance of customer service is part of a Starbucks campaign that is rapidly going pear-shaped online. It started with the brand giving away free lattes in exchange for customers telling the barista their first name and continued with Starbucks staff still merrily writing customer names on cups but with frequent misspellings leading to a host of comedy sites springing up like http://whatsmynamestarbucks.blogspot.co.uk/, http://starbucksspelling.tumblr.com/ or my personal favorite, “The Starbucks Name Generator.”
The earlier example of name-calling (and it’s not a one off) shows that even the staff aren’t taking it seriously anymore . . .
Many marketing publications — who perhaps got their interviews before the campaign went live — are praising the company's intentions of “personalizing” the brand experience, but surely the online response from consumers in terms of brand perception and reputation have made this one a bit of an own goal.
Even worse, has Starbucks proven that big brands can’t “do” personal?