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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

August 17, 2006 at 2:12 PM

Starbucks game pays in spades

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to participate in Starbucks’ Summer Pursuit Sweepstakes game.

It worked like this: You sign up on the Starbucks Web site, and you start receiving text messages with questions. One, for example, was “What has two p’s, two c’s and no h? I’m hard to spell, but easy to drink.”

The answer was Frappuccino, of course.

Other questions had nothing to do with Starbucks, and frequently when you answered wrong, you received another hint that would ensure you got it right.

One of the features of the game was that you could either text the answer back or send a picture of the answer. For the Frappuccino question, I snapped a picture of a drink off Starbucks’ Web site. But nothing ever happened. When I typed in the response, I got a positive message back immediately. Go figure.

The motivation for participating? A $5 gift card. I just received mine in the mail yesterday. It came in a mysterious envelope with a Grand Rapids, Mich., return address.

I wonder how much the text message sweepstakes cost Starbucks? A $5 gift card, 39 cents in postage, and probably someone behind the scenes to send the text messages.

Is this the future of using mobile to market your product? If so, I ask what value does it have?

Of course, now Starbucks has my home address and my cellphone number (or at least, the phone number of one of the many test phones I am always juggling).

I suppose that information could become invaluable as long as it doesn’t abuse it (that would mean, as long as they keep sending me $5 gift certificates in the mail and nothing else!).

So far, so good. Since the game ended, I haven’t heard so much as a percolation from the folks there.

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