The Frappuccino is considered Starbucks’ “go-to hot weather drink,” credited with overhauling the Starbucks experience. Originally developed in Santa Monica 1993, it was christened the “frappuccino,” taking the name from a drink at The Coffee Connection, which Starbucks acquired in 1994. As of 2012, Starbucks had annual Frappuccino sales of over $2 billion, Since 2002, Starbucks has released a new Frappuccino flavor each spring, color-coordinated with runway fashions at the time. There are websites dedicated to pop culture-themed Frappuccinos and secret menu items, as well as seasonal versions of the blended drink.



I assisted with research that shaped branding in preparation for the launch of a new beverage, the Banana Split Frappuccino:

"Like a drinkable ice cream sundae, this beverage combines sweet strawberry whipped cream and refreshing banana and mocha, which is blended and topped with a fluffy vanilla whipped cream. Chunky and crunchy waffle pieces complete this nostalgic summer treat."

My team was a blend of planning + creative and we worked together to develop a creative point of view to pitch to the Starbucks head of global and conceptualize a matching campaign for the 2017 year (and ate a lot of banana splits in the process).


1. Research millennial attitudes towards summer and banana splits

2. Write a market research report on Frappuccino culture in Asia and consumer preferences

3. Use insights from research to develop a creative positioning

4. Create fun, new digital/social campaign to drive consumer engagement that reflects the personality of the Frappuccino


From a discussion with the Brian, the Senior Director of Brand Strategy & Marketing for the APAC region:

"It’s about fun, frivolousness, attitude, edge; social moments that feel related to product. The tonality is defined as reimagined experiences shared socially. A playful alchemy that is the Frappuccino.”

Frappuccinos are fairly popular in Asia, mainly because of the unpopularity of coffee. Asian consumers prefer richer, sweeter, and more interesting drinks—the blended drinks are sold as an "American experience" with a modern twist on traditional Asian flavors. Dessert-inspired and other limited time offering Frappuccinos are intriguing to Asian consumers, the banana split inspires strong connections with celebration and friends/family, and the Frappuccino itself is an indulgent summer treat with premium ingredients and exciting flavors and textures.

An important part of Frappuccino culture is creating flavors that reflect regional tastes. In Asia, flavors like black sesame, red bean, matcha, and cherry blossom are popular, and Asia markets are responsible for 88% of sales of drinks that have "chewy" or "jelly" in them.

We decided to research the ideas of summer, Frappuccinos, and banana splits in Asia to develop our positioning.

banana split frapp.jpg

Some past limited-edition Frappuccino flavors in Asia:

APAC: Coffee Jelly, fruit Jelly Yogurt, Strawberry Cheesecake, Red Bean Green Tea, Cherry Blossom (seasonal everywhere except Japan)

China: Key Lime, Black Sesame

Japan: Coffee and White Tiramisu, Hojicha with Earl Grey Jelly, Cantaloupe Melon, Baked Cheesecake, Banana, Chocolate Brownie Matcha Green Tea, Orange Chocolate Mocha, Cream Cheese, Caramel Flan, Chocolate Pretzel, Banana and Chocolate Cream, Tangerine, Mango/Mango Jelly, Chocolate Crunch, Fraggino (alcoholic Frappuccino)

Korea: Yogurt Fizzio with Mango Jelly

Singapore: Summer Berry Panna Cotta, Orange Honeycomb Crunch

Thailand: Strawberry Cheesecake

Taiwan: Purple Sweet Potato Milk Cream

what we found

We discovered that experience and escapism were two major themes in the Asian millennial summer mindset.

Summer is peak travel time, with people rushing to escape the heat in exchange for milder weather in the mountains or beach cities.

Festivals, both cultural and dance music, are popular in Japan and Korea. They are "the place to be seen," for millennials, who value a shared lifestyle narrative. Water parks, theme parks, rooftop bars, skating rinks, and pools see a lot of activity in the summer months, and special summer dishes like cold noodles and shaved ice are local indulgences.

We discovered that while banana splits are considered a retro, nostalgic experience for millennials in the United States, Asian millennials don't have this same emotional attachment to them. For them, the banana split is more of an American pop culture novelty icon, much like the Frappuccino itself.

frappuccino summer.JPG

We also evaluated our target audience: young Asian millennial trendsetters are digitally connected and are eager to be seen engaging with the Starbucks brand and its products; they crave highly-engaging real-life moments that translate to social media communication channels. They are ambitious and eager to take on life; they admire the independence and individuality of Western culture, and seek out those experiences both virtually and in real life.


With this audience and attitude in mind, we wanted to create a campaign that captured the spirit of the Frappuccino and brought it to life in a shareable way. We wanted to target social emotions—fun, joy, delight, and surprise—while interweaving the common themes of escapism and experience.

We developed an interactive campaign strategy around the idea of a "sharing experience," both online and offline, just as banana splits are often shared among friends. Our creative team came up with the slogan "Sip the Summer Fun" to reflect the campaign promise: a fun, whimsical way to beat the heat and share summer moments with friends.

The aesthetic of the Frappuccino Instagram is colorful, playful, quirky, and culturally relevant, so we used the idea of little animated bananas as the mascot for the drink. They would be present on social media in unexpected ways: popping up in UGC, GIFs of the bananas sliding down the Frappuccino straw, etc.