Breaking Down the Top Three Pumpkin Spice Ads

It’s that time of the year again. The temperatures are dropping, the leaves are turning and everyone you know is raving about their favorite pumpkin spice latte. However, you may have noticed that this year there aren’t nearly as many pumpkin spice ads running on your television and plastered as pre-roll for online videos. In part this is because over the past five years or so, pumpkin spice has garnered quite the cult following. Fans of the pumpkin spice latte no longer need to be introduced to the beverage to generate the type of hype brands are craving.

So we thought it would be helpful to break down the top three pumpkin spice commercials that are responsible for turning a hot cup of coffee into a fall trend, and to many, a lifestyle. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. McDonald’s 2013 Ad: For a few years now McDonald’s has been trying to build their McCafé Brand—their line of house made coffee that normally sells for $1 regardless of serving size. While many were skeptical at first, McDonald’s has shown they can make a pretty great cup of coffee, and thus decided it would be a smart marketing move to jump on the pumpkin spice band wagon. In 2013 they launched this ad that hit the nail on the head as far as making a connection with the audience. The genius in the ad is that it depicts a exhausted looking shopper (it is the holiday season after all) who sits down at a bus stop to wait for a ride. However, once they take a sip of the pumpkin spice latte they are transformed from a drained shopper who just braved the Black Friday clouds into a relaxed woman enjoying all things fall in her personal log cabin. Here we see a strong example of making an emotional link between pumpkin spice and true relaxation.
  1. Dunkin’ Donuts’ 2015 Macchiato Ad: Pumpkin spice lattes truly define “trendy”, as today there is a bit of a social status associated with the drink. Simply put, those who are “cool” drink pumpkin spice lattes. Dunkin’ Donuts decided to play on this social meme and take it one step further. Sure, pumpkin spice lattes are nice, but the only place where you can get a pumpkin spice macchiato is at Dunkin’. The Boston based donut shop chain decided to make their ad centered on trends, uniqueness and played up the high-quality of this off-the-beaten-path beverage. For that, Dunkin’ has differentiated itself from the competition, while taking advantage of the hype around pumpkin spice.
  1. Starbucks’ PSL Days 2011 ad: Of course our top ad for pumpkin spice goes to the organization that began the craze years ago. But is it really possible that Starbucks’ ad from 2011 is still top dog? We think so. The trend we’re seeing today as far as the pumpkin spice obsession goes is that there are two major camps: those who worship at the church of pumpkin spice and those who can’t stand the sight of it. Because, let’s be honest, the pumpkin spice craze has gotten just a little bit out of hand. And that is exactly the point Starbucks makes here. The Seattle based corporation takes you into the world of a Midwestern town that celebrates the start of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte season with a county fair of sorts that goes by the name “PSL Days”. Quilts paying homage to the pumpkin spice latte, cinnamon baton twirlers and a beauty pageant of red heads all make an appearance in this epic 1 minute 45 second ad. Starbucks gets the win by touching on the ridiculousness of the trend that’s enough to make you smile and grab a cup of your own PSL today.

Have a favorite pumpkin spice latte add that didn’t make the list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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