Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
We all have vulnerabilities.
Sometimes we fight them. More often, we give them free rein because we enjoy the consequences and hope the damage will be limited.
One of those vulnerabilities is, of course, our ego.
We want to be admired, loved even. We want to be talked about too.
This is something that isn't just a personal trait. Brands enjoy it -- or, depending on your perspective, endure it.
Why, just a couple of weeks ago, McDonald's fired its ad agency because, it seems, it's a touch envious that people are constantly talking about Burger King, Wendy's, KFC and even, good Lord, Popeyes.
But not so much about McDonald's.
Brands want to be in the news. And, in the case of McDonald's, they want to be in the news for something more than just because a fight broke out in one of their restaurants.
Which leads me to a fascinating development at Starbucks.
Have you noticed that the coffee chain hasn't been talked about quite so much lately?
Have you also noticed that Starbucks doesn't seem to mind?
A quite pulsating article in Fortune offered a suggestion as to why.
It profiled Roz Brewer, the former Walmart executive who's now number 2 to CEO Kevin Johnson.
When she first arrived at Starbucks, she changed nothing. Instead, she spent 90 days learning how Starbucks worked.
Or, in some parts, didn't work.
As she pored over the data -- often a delicately dangerous thing to do without rubber gloves -- she noticed that the chain was really fond of its limited-time offers.
You know, things like the famous, infamous, utterly grotesque Unicorn Frappuccino.
Everyone talked about these things. Everyone marveled at its sheer attention-sucking qualities.
However, what Brewer noticed was that, for all the noise these limited-time offers generated, they didn't often lead to everyday, regular purchases.
Who needs a week of PR when it doesn't actually contribute to the core of your business and annoys the hell out of your employees?
Instead, then, Brewer encouraged new products that could be made in various flavors with existing ingredients -- glories such as nitro coffee and cold foam.
Oddly, the result was that Starbucks improved its results.
More oddly, the baristas could get on with their regular tasks -- tasks that have been made more customer-focused over time -- instead of fearing they'll be bathed in annoyance and covered in goo.
This doesn't mean, of course, that everything is at Starbucks is Roz-y.
As more and more people order via the app, there's a danger that the personal touch will be lost for good.
Starbucks might want its baristas to have a little more time to interact with customers, but customers might just want to get in, get out and get back on their phones.
A fine lesson, though, is that generating excitable publicity doesn't necessarily make for an exciting business environment.
Of course you want everyone to talk about you. You also want them to commit to you.
Or at least buy something from you more than once.