The Search for the Unicorn Frappe

April 24, 2017
Nichelle Schulz

unicorn frappe

First off, this is probably one of the biggest marketing ploys of all time. And it worked amazingly well.

The Unicorn Frappe was only around for a few days before it disappeared, but those artificial neon blue and pink colours will be forever in our brains (maybe not). A frenzy ensued for people wanting to get them. And once they tried them, the reviews seemed to be subpar at best, but did anyone really care? And isn’t that kind of a slap in the face to the common consumer? Pretty much that’s Starbucks saying that we can produce an almost nasty tasting drink, and everyone will still go bonkers trying to buy it.

After being bombarded on all forms of social media, we decided to go hunt one down for ourselves on April 21, two days before it was supposed to end, and came up empty. The two locations nearest DSA in Langley were out of supplies. One of the locations offered to make me a vanilla bean frappe with the mango flavour added, to try and replicate the taste so I could at least somewhat experience it. I went ahead with that, and found the flavour to be okay. Not tasty, but not spit-out worthy either. Apparently the blue portion of the unicorn was supposed to be sour though, so I could see why there was a lot of negative vibes behind the drink overall. It did look super pretty though, which seemed to be all that mattered for most.

The social buzz around the Unicorn Frappe was one for the record books. The Snapchat filter seemed pretty popular, with a huge amount of usage and pretty colours. The hashtag #unicornfrappuccino received 149,369 posts on Instagram, and sparked users to create art, memes and makeup tutorials. This is good news for Starbucks, as the idea behind the drink was to make it “Instagrammable”. On YouTube there was over 16k results of uploads for the unicorn frappe, most of them being taste test videos. The Buzzfeed video alone garnered almost four million views. Even celebrities were jumping in, with Katy Perry posting a video of tasting and then spitting the drink out, and Stephen Colbert trying it on air and then wishing he was dead.

So, at the end of the day, were the consumers more curious about the flavour and needed to try it? Or were they Starbucks loyalists that need to try the newest drink? Are they simply trying to stay relevant? Maybe we’re all just attracted to shiny things? Who knows, but whatever the reason, I’m guessing Starbucks’ sales between those five days of the release of the drink spiked significantly.