Despite the famous--and unfortunately only satiric--headline in The Onion announcing that Starbucks will open a new location in the washroom of a current Starbucks, I always believed that the next frontier for the pervasive coffee chain would be mini-kiosks throughout shopping mall parking lots. Sometimes, particularly these post-Thanksgiving times, you need a pit stop on that Bataan-like march from your car to the gates of sell.
While this dream of mine still goes unrequited, the next best thing is being launched on Wednesday as communications giant Rogers Wireless is firing up a convoy of branded golf carts to provide lifts to shoppers stranded in the auto boonies of eight malls in the province of Ontario (an inspired brainstorm from Toronto's innovative Fuse Marketing).
Talk about a captive audience! For the price of a lift in one of the "Rogers Share the Joy Shopping Shuttles" (now THAT's a branded golf cart!), consumers will be pitched new Rogers handsets from LG and Sony Ericsson, offered the use of said phones to make calls, and be entertained by Christmas Carol full-track downloads and ringtones. Depending how far on the outskirts one parks, one may be able to enjoy the full catalog of Andy Williams and Burl Ives (the Frosty The Snowman warbler at right) before even hitting the front doors.
On one hand, this is a deal with the devil, and proves that there is no such thing as a free ride. But if the Rogers team keeps the sell job to a minimum (less is indeed more here), and given the hardship of climbs during these winter climes, this can become a textbook example of Surprise marketing at it most appreciated best.