The Rise of the Mini-Campaign


In Store Ads (Source: Starbucks Facebook Page)


Starbucks Share Joy (Source:

Yesterday, my friend texted me and asked me to go to Starbucks to share a lazy afternoon and have some coffee, because there is a promotional event at Starbucks – Share Joy. When you buy one holiday beverage, you will get one free to share.

On November 12th, 2013, Starbucks transformed all their US stores, welcoming the holiday season. And the Share Joy campaign started on November 13th, and ended today, November 17th. To promote this campaign, Starbucks have print ads and hand drawing ads in stores; a banner ad on its commercial website; a special website for this event at where you can add your own wish to the web page, and share it with your friends through Facebook, Twitter, and email; a TV commercial; and promotional texts and graphics on its social media sites.

Share Joy – Starbucks

This kind of mini-campaigns is becoming more and more universal in today’s technology advanced society, argues by Kristen Cavallo, chief strategy officer at Mullen, and one of the judging panel for this year’s Jay Chiat Awards for Strategic Excellence, an annual competition organized by the 4A’s.

Cavallo claims that a central component of modern marketing planning is the development of mini-campaigns. Mini-campaigns help brands win in the short term, whether that be during the holidays or back-to-school season. Such a requirement is partly a response to the advent of real-time marketing and measurement, and puts pressure on agencies while simultaneously fostering a tighter focus and liberating them from traditional restrictions.

A mini-campaign is like one chapter in a book. Cavallo points out that current marketers incline to write the book in chapters, as opposed to create a whole story in one sitting. And there is the added complication that you don’t always know where the next chapter is going to lead. She stresses that planners now need a broader skill set and a multidisciplinary mindset if they are to understand the array of channels now available.

I think mini-campaigns can help a brand increase its sales in a short time. However, marketers should have a clear stated marketing strategy, which leads these mini-campaigns. If not, different mini-campaigns may work for their own sake, but will not do anything good for the brand’s long term development.

Have you noticed any mini-campaigns recently? What do you think about the rise of the mini-campaign?

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9 Responses to The Rise of the Mini-Campaign

  1. Moran Pei says:

    I personally prefer mini campaigns than large campaigns. Large campaigns are too complicated and always make me get lost in those countless links and pages. In addition, it takes too much time to fully understand a large campaign. For instance, I totally had no idea what the campaign Why So Serious? for the movie Dark Knight were going to talk about the first time I saw the campaign’s main page. So I think it could be a new tendency to reduce the size of campaigns and make them more friendly to the audience.

  2. Mengchu says:

    Thank you for sharing. Actually I did not notice the mini-campaigns before I read this article~. You mentioned that “different mini-campaigns may work for their own sake, but will not do anything good for the brand’s long term development.” I think mini-campaigns may have different themes, which are not quite related to one another. But I don’t think that mini-campaigns are not good for a brand’s long-term development. There can be some kind of continuity and consistency in mini-campaigns. For example, this time, the theme is “share joy”. Next time it can be “discover joy”. So a brand should carry some ideas through the mini-campaigns.

  3. Wenjing Tang says:

    Thanks, Fangya. I like this campaign because it was quite approachable and interactive. From marketing communication perspective, it also did a good job at integration. I visited the website following your link and one thing that I found particularly interesting was that if you move your mouse cursor across the leaf zone (below the two cups), you can see other consumers’ wishes coming out one after another. It was like a discovering activity that you would never know where and what messages could be found after your next movement. The consumers of Starbucks were like a big community and they shared their hopes and beliefs with each other. Also about mini-campaign, despite its short running time, it requires delicate design to attract audiences immediately. Thus, a creative idea or gimmick is of vital importance.

  4. wanyang says:

    Personally, I love the mini “shared joy” campaign proposed by starbucks. I remembered they did the same kind of campaign a week before Christmas last year. The “buy one get one free” promotion has become a tradition for starbucks that can be deeply embedded in loyal consumers’ mind. Personally, I am a big advocate for these type of mini-campaign. First, it has a clear and simple message that can be easily grasped by every consumer. The warm brand tone, friendly brand personality, and sharing spirits revealed in this mini “shared joy” campaign are the extension of the Starbuck’s previous campaign. The concept is consistent and promotion is the similar but in a different branding package. Another thing I found is very interesting that the timing for the campaign. It launched between halloween and thanksgiving. It is a perfect time for marketers for seize consumer’s eyeballs before the endless stream of promotional events begin to distract their attentions. I am loyalty fan of starbucks and I will keep the focus on its future mini-campaign.

  5. Allison Churchman says:

    Starbucks always uses mini-campaigns, and personally I think it works really well for their company. As much as I love the mini-campaigns, I think it is hard for certain companies to pull this off. I believe mini-campaigns work best for companies within industries that are constantly producing new products, such as Starbucks with some drinks that are only available certain times of the year. One major thing to consider is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and money to create campaigns, big or small, so companies that use mini-campaigns must have a large marketing budget. It is not worth it for certain companies to partake in mini-campaigns given the money spend for only a short-lived campaign. Because of this, I do not think we will see a lot of mini-campaigns in the future.

  6. Andrea Pan says:

    Hi Fangya, thank you for the interesting post. I think these mini campaigns are emerging largely because consumers have shorter and shorter attention spans, while faced with more and more attractions. I feel like these mini campaigns must meet certain criteria in order to be effective. For example, like you already mentioned, they have to be careful with timing (usually during holiday seasons or back-to-school seasons). The ideas behind these campaigns need to be appealing enough to grab attentions instantly. Also, what I find to be most important for these mini campaigns to compete and hopefully stand out during a relatively short time, is that they have to provide strong incentives for consumers to take actions. These incentives mostly tend to be discounts, coupons, promotions, or special deals like buy one get one free — exactly what Starbucks did.

  7. fennihua says:

    Thanks for an interesting post! I agree with Allison that not all the companies are suitable for mini-campaigns. Starbucks is a frequent user because it is a brand that is well established, and it seems like everyone in the States knows/loves it. If that’s the case, people will pay attention to it and follow what is going on in stores. Starbucks has a winning point that it often has different promotions from time to time, especially for holidays. Hence they already have their customers’ attention, plus they have holiday specials, they just need to do a little more push to promote the drinks.

  8. Siyu says:

    Thanks for sharing the idea of mini-campaigns. I enjoyed the “share joy” campaign by Starbucks. Well, let’s be frank, who doesn’t like discounts and promotions? I think, like Andrea mentioned in the comment, mini-campaigns usually happen during certain time period like holidays, and the promoted products should be relative to this period.

  9. Lilian Mak says:

    I’ve always loved the mini campaigns done by Starbucks. It fits with their brand image really well and have always been successful in encouraging customers to try new flavours and share with their friends and families. However, I agree that mini campaigns may not apply to all companies. It greatly depends on the budget, the time span of launching new products, etc. But mini campaigns with good bargains and offers definitely help to attract consumers in the short run. I personally enjoy the buy one get one free deal and would often ask my friend to go together and enjoy a good deal.