Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
I confess to sometimes finding marketing confusing.
I know it’s supposed to make me feel happy — all marketing is there to trick you into that.
Occasionally, though, I find myself troubled, confused or merely numbed.
I’m certainly the last of these when it comes to Starbucks’s marketing wheeze for Valentine’s Day. Perhaps I’m confused and troubled, too, but don’t yet know it.
I had always been under the impression that Valentine’s Day has something to do with love.
It’s about hearts and flowers and dinners and beautifully-told fibs.
Somehow, then, Starbucks and romance don’t appear to be an ideal match.
You go to Starbucks, you complain about the weather, the political situation or the CEO’s vast wealth, your barista sympathizes and then you go off to work in order to find new things to complain about.
What, then, can Starbucks offer that makes romance spring in your heart?
“Love is in the air, and Starbucks is making it easier than ever to enjoy a sweet treat or find a heartfelt gift this Valentine’s Day,” says its breathlessly affectionate website.
What, pray, are these sweet treats? Big, slobbery molten chocolate drinks.
You have a choice of the Molten Chocolate Latte, the Molten Chocolate Frappuccino Blended Beverage or plain old Molten Hot Chocolate.
Please devote your imagination to this. Do the words Molten Chocolate Frappuccino Blended Beverage say love to you?
Do they fill your heart with the notion that someone will shortly be stroking your face and professing their undying obsession with your very being?
Does the word Beverage makes your sinews shudder and your heart palpitate at the speed of Einstein’s brain?
Perhaps if you drink it too quickly, I suppose.
You might imagine that there’s something a little spicy and alluring in this blended Beverage.
Well, to quote Starbucks: “This drink is a mix of coffee with rich mocha sauce and chocolatey chips blended with milk and ice.”
Does that sound like the breakfast equivalent of roses and a romantic dinner to you?
Perhaps, though, these drinks aren’t to be shared or given. Perhaps Starbucks has created these glories for its customers to show themselves love.
Perhaps these drinks have a secret message, one that says: “Look, we know no one really loves you, so start loving yourself from the crack of dawn because your evening won’t be a box of chocolates.”
Please, I understand that chocolate is supposed to be a Valentine’s Day thing. And if these molten monstrosities are the best Starbucks can do, so be it.
But they’re not just available on Valentine’s Day itself. Starbucks is making them available for one whole week, starting February 7.
So what’s the message?
Love isn’t so special?
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.