Apr 30, 2006
Coffee and Tea social cultures
A few weeks ago I noticed the Akeelah flash cards and scrabble board appear in Starbucks. Instore promotions now at Starbucks along with over-priced not so good coffee. Then taking a hint for "Talent Zoo" and the likes they too have their own personalized coffee cup sleeves promoting Akeelah and the Bee adding to the urban spam. How many cofffee addicts will convert to movie goers remains to be seen... or leave alone watch Akeelah and the Bee. What I haven't seen is one person engage with the flash cards or even read the coffee sleeves - So it seems pointless why Starbucks is trying to promote feel good movies. One thing it did achieve is, it created a lot of buzz.
Mark Cuban and Howard Schultz think Starbucks provides an environment where people can be exposed to new culutral opportunities and its the third page in peoples lives after home and work.. BusinessWeek has an interesting article clck here to read.
Looking back, just like Starbucks borrowed the barista culture and made chai tea lattes famous ... In hot Ahmedabad, where I spent my early undergrad years at design school, tea stalls are common, strategically loacted under a tree, lucky if it has a large canopy, a roadside curb ... even an island on the road.... where police authorites would have a cup or two too.
Tea lovers gather around to ruminate, gossip, chatter and philosphize anytime of day and night. Its a hang out without the fancy Baristas, Cyber cafes of urban India. Tea can be customized to your taste and you are normally greeted by your name and all one has to is wave and show a sign of how many tea cups you want ... you could unwind and the yound chai wallah boy would bring you your tea.
Todays youth in India prefer the trendy cafes with blaring music to hang out leaving the roadside treasure for the common masses, travellers. There is nothing that quenches your thirst like Indian tea and its culture. Product placement has been prevalent around these social hubs for a long time. From movie stars touting Coca-cola and Pepsi products, cigarettes, Indian chewing tobacco, beetle leaf ... so there are commonalities in our cultures ... Starbucks offers a network of comfortable stores for people whose daily habit constitues coffee - whereas in India its privatley owned tea stalls providing a source of income for a population addicted to chai.
Check out the Flickr Chai India Pool.
As for Akeelah and bee, I may just watch it when it airs on TV.