Behind Starbucks surprising OOH campaign

With eight canvases and six locations throughout Malaysia, Starbucks Malaysia took their latest campaign nationwide and got Malaysians to be part of it without them knowing. 

Dubbed The Art of Expression, highways around the Klang Valley received a nice serving of vibrancy and colour with canvases filled with hand-painted doodles by patrons of the coffee franchise blown up on billboards.


To understand what went on behind the scenes, MARKETING spoke to Starbucks Malaysia Senior Marketing Manager Elisa saw:

MARKETING: The new Starbucks billboards on the highway certainly adds an air of vibrancy to our highways.What were the motivations behind the campaign?

ELISA: This year, Starbucks’ Summer is themed ‘Show Your Flavor’, a celebration of individual preferences and the daringness to explore, just like our Starbucks Frappuccino®.

With that theme in mind, we wanted to encourage customers and the public to showcase their individuality by expressing themselves creatively through colours. We believe that every individual is unique in their own way. However, when individuals come together, we are able to create a harmonious blend that celebrates differences and represents us as a multi-cultural Malaysian.  Hence, the final combined artwork which is now seen on out-of-home, print and digital mediums are called “Inilah Kita” / “This is Us”.


The video posted on Starbucks’s Facebook page has already hit over 65,000 views

On a side note, aligning with this art project, we have also engaged with some local talents and artists to do murals at the Starbucks Jalan Ampang Drive-Thru.

MARKETING: Did you decide to use billboards for a specific reason?

ELISA: Billboards were selected as the main medium as we were looking for an elaborate platform to create a maximum visual impact that showcases the paint works, and one that is also part of the day to day life of our customers. 

This enables a stronger bond between the brand and customers. But, it doesn’t stop there. Besides billboards, the artwork was also featured on print and social media. 

MARKETING: What kind of response did you anticipate from this campaign? 

ELISA: First and foremost, we were looking at a campaign that has a mass appeal.  We wanted to create a positive brand experience, build excitement and draw higher customer engagement with the Starbucks brand.  The ideation of having our customers be part of the final piece, in our mind, would create a sense of belonging where customers feel like they are part of the brand. 

MARKETING: Has that response been realised since you went live?

ELISA: From the day of the event, the response has gone above and beyond our expectations.

On the ground, our customers of all ages participated actively and the objective of having them express themselves freely was also achieved.  We also saw that there were many great personal stories behind their drawings on the canvases. 

Feedback and comments on social media were equally favourable. The rapid growth of the Starbucks brand in Malaysia is supported by the ability to be able to create positive brand engagement with customers from all walks of life in various locations. 

With that, we are pleased that the response from the campaign fit into our overall business strategy.


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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

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