Starbucks Coffee

Making Starbucks Regionally Relevant


Starting in 1994, when it bought out a small but beloved Boston-based chain, Starbucks struggled for acceptance in New England, even as it was embraced by the rest of the country. The typical New Englander was far more familiar with the lightly roasted Dunkin’ Donuts blend, served with heavy cream and sugar, than with the dark, strong Starbucks roasts. Also, at the time, handcrafted espresso-based beverages were not as ubiquitous as they are today. marlo principal Marlo Fogelman was charged with increasing sales and ingratiating Starbucks within the region.


Recognizing Boston’s community makeup, we proposed the idea of using an espresso-based beverage to celebrate the city’s large Irish heritage. St. Patrick’s Day is an actual holiday in Boston, and celebrations take place throughout the month of March. To capture a larger share of the corresponding media attention, we proposed creating a “Leprechaun Latte,” basically a mint mocha topped with green whipped cream.

In year one, logistical issues meant the Leprechaun Latte could only be implemented in one downtown store. Nonetheless, we were able to secure media coverage, including four morning radio programs that invited us in to provide coffee while they chatted with a Starbucks employee dressed in green from head to toe.

For the next four years, we re-pitched the program to our client, growing it from one store with no marketing support to all metro Boston stores, to all Massachusetts stores and, finally, to all stores throughout New England. Over the course of the program, we gradually introduced other supporting elements, including a charity tie-in, in-store signage and advertising.


Over a two-year period, the company saw a 57% increase in the sale of mint mochas during the month of March. This tangible and substantial increase proved the initiative’s success and continued potential. Over a four-year period, the company sold 42,000 units, the equivalent of $159,000 in sales and raised $4,000 for Boston-based charities. For many years following, the Leprechaun Latte was a staple of Starbucks’ New England marketing plan, and the company’s marketing tactics included full-page paid advertisements in local publications such as The Boston Globe and The Improper Bostonian.