Is this a bad thing?
Don’t go there.
Is this a good thing?
I don’t thiinnnkkk, so.
Catchphrases are labor-savings devices. They pre-wrap meanings and eliminate the need for fresh thinking.
Read my lips.
Which leads us to the reptilian part of the brain, the old brain, the deep recesses where raw, pre-civilized passions hold sway. It is there in the reptilian brain that the archetypes of culture lurk.
Wake up and smell the coffee.
In the American reptilian, according to archetypologist Clothaire Rapaille, the smell of coffee signifies home, with all the sensations of comfort and safety evoked by the meaning called home. Even more than the taste, it seems, the smell of coffee has a deep reptilian meaning to the mind of Americans.
Enter Starbucks, home of the smell of coffee, meaning, in archetypal terms, home of the reptilian feeling of home. This caffeinated global leviathan, named from the first mate of the original Leviathan, Moby Dick, sits at the pinnacle of the world’s business without haven’t relinquished a dime to advertising.
Coffee, as any financial page can tell you, is a commodity. But your green logo doesn’t ascend to domination of the earth, your stores don’t become official offices to the vast population of free lancers in the digital economy, by serving a commodity. As CEO Howard Schultz explains: “We’re not in the coffee business. “We’re in the people business and happen to sell coffee.”
Starbucks isn’t selling coffee. It’s selling a meaning. That meaning has been called the Third Place, the place you go that is not work and not home. Europe has long known of the Third Place, a long tradition of public life and public living, the socialist heart of Europe and its devotion to community. But the Third Place is far more novel to America because America is home to the private life. In American iconography, the cowboy rides off alone into the sunset, and the American sits alone at home watching the movie.
Doesn’t Starbucks make great coffee? Of course. And that would explain why a cup of coffee at Starbucks costs thee times more than at a coffee shop in New York? Except Consumer Reports, in an impartial evaluation, rated McDonalds coffee higher than Starbucks.
The problem is, Consumer Reports researched beans and water and flavor and forgot to research meaning. If it had, it would have realized only a third of the price of a cup of coffee at Starbucks goes for taste, and two thirds to meaning, to the reptilian, to the Third Place, to the smell of Starbucks in the morning, to the smell of coffee and the sensation of home.
Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.