Consumer Products

Starbucks Frappuccino Scare

About 300,000 bottles of Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino were recalled recently. The reason was that the containers might have small glass pieces. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the warning. It is an example of how one brand can be hurt by the actions of another. Pepsico makes the product and is the real culprit. That will be lost on most people.

Even the FDA warning is confusing. The warning says the product is “Starbucks frappuccino Vanilla. Chilled Coffee Drink.” Buried deeper in the warning is that the “recalling firm” is PepsiCo. How many people read FDA documents closely? The answer is “close to no one.”

Starbucks has no recourse. It cannot force Pepsi to spend millions of dollars on educating the public. Pepsis gets off the hook. People who go to Starbucks will only remember a potentially dangerous problem.

Brand values are sensitive. According to Interbrand, Pepsi is the 32nd most valuable brand at $19.6 billion. Starbucks is 53rd at $16 billion. Brand values can fall hard. The same list posted the erosion of Facebook and Intel. Each of these was based on a series of negative incidents.

Starbucks’ brand will not take a hit anywhere near what Facebook and Intel did. But the effects of the Vanilla Frappuccino will not be negligible. And Pepsi dodged a bullet.

(These are the Starbucks capitals of America.)

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