Free Starbucks Coffee on Election Day!

One of the fun things about working on MyStarbucksIdea is that sometimes an idea comes in to the site and to the company at large that is so timely and perfectly expressed that everyone both in the community and the company immediately gets excited about it

On 10/7 BillMac posted an idea called "Free Cup of Starbucks Coffee for Voters" and a similar theme was echoed by JavaOcha, Geraldo, rsj211, epiphanygalore, and a few others.  Basically all of you thought it would be a great idea to encourage voting by offering free coffee to those who vote.  BillMac’s idea rocketed to the top 10 of currently popular ideas.

This idea coincided perfectly with the launch of Shared Planet last week and is a logical extension of that commitment to support local communities.  Similar ideas also came to us from partners.

So, for all these reasons, we're going to implement the idea.  On (11/4), head to your local US Starbucks and we’ll give you a FREE tall (12 oz) cup of brewed coffee at no charge (limit one per customer) as a celebration of this important day.  AN UPDATE:  to make this as easy as possible, we're going to extend this offer for a free coffee on election day to everyone who asks!

One other fun note:  the initiative kicks off with a 60-second ad during the final pre-election Saturday Night Live on NBC this Saturday (11/1).  Make sure you tune in.

You vote and good things happen.  Sounds like democracy to me!

PS:  If you missed the SNL spot (or just need to see it again), click below to view.

10/31/2008 10:12 PM

Fantastic idea. Whatever it takes to get people out to vote!

10/31/2008 10:14 PM

Can we please serve the coffee in Tall cups that CLEARLY say "This coffee brought to you from the great ideas at"  LOL. Maybe a little sticker to throw on the existing cups. I want to get the word out about our heavenly site here! (j/k) ;-)

Thanks for the positive news Matt! I'm sure November 4th will bring many happy voters to Starbucks. :)  :)

10/31/2008 10:18 PM

Thanks MoBu67!  

Melody:  yeah, I hear you!   BTW, speaking of getting the word out.  Also check out for a lively discussion.  

And free stuff.

10/31/2008 11:08 PM

great idea. I'll be stopping by my local starbucks after I vote!!

11/1/2008 12:22 AM

This is a great Idea guys. I just wish it included Mocha Frappe's since I am not a hot coffee kind of guy.

11/1/2008 4:51 AM

Great idea!!!!  I'll be sure that I stop by!

11/1/2008 6:13 AM

Nicely Done!  I plan to stop by.

11/1/2008 12:02 PM

voting is a good thing...and the free starbucks is icing on the cake....or, should I say the free starbucks is like the little red sprinkles that come on my triple shot extra hot peppermint mocha in season:) It just doesn't get any better than that!

11/1/2008 12:09 PM

Do you have a email piece I can send to my list, not everyone on twitter.  I love it and I will VOTE.


The Marketing Project

11/1/2008 1:45 PM

Now THIS is awesome!!  Thank you. :-D

Matt, I mentioned somewhere on this site but maybe you missed it.......

MSI has not frozen on me since the last update. THANK YOU!!!!

11/1/2008 2:01 PM

Momiji, I did see that.  I was so happy!  Thanks for telling me again, though, in case I'd missed it.

11/1/2008 2:01 PM

marketingideas:  no, not really, but feel free to send the link out!

11/2/2008 2:08 AM

what's the music in the ad?

Cris Reep
11/2/2008 5:07 AM

Wow, what a terrific community partner you are Starbucks!  I am impressed.  My husband (Bill Mac) sent you a super idea and you acted on it.  I am hearing all kinds of good buzz about it!  Does Bill get a free cup each week for his idea??

11/2/2008 6:36 AM

Tubbuc:  I'll find out...

11/2/2008 7:37 AM

billmac...way to go! I think it's a great idea. Hopefully, everyone will hear about it soon.

11/2/2008 7:55 AM

Great Idea. Good work MSI team.

Iron chef
11/2/2008 8:20 AM

If anyone missed the ad last night on SNL, here it is. I think it was tastefully done, but slightly overdrawn. It started to loose my attention about 3 questions before they actually connected it to coffee.

11/2/2008 11:17 AM

Matt as others have said great idea!

But what about us tea drinkers - can we get a tall size iced or hot tea?

11/2/2008 11:18 AM

Forgot to mention that when I was at SB this morning the partner there had absolutely no idea that this promo was being offered. She thought it a great idea though. How is it being communicated to the stores?

Iron chef
11/2/2008 11:30 AM


We were sent a notification about this promotion at the store level on Friday afternoon.

11/2/2008 2:09 PM

Great job MSI Team!  Thanks being in tune with our communitites.  It's too important to vote!  

SO... another good work to the Promo!  Much better than those free coffee cards promo!


11/2/2008 10:29 PM

Tubbuc:  the music is from a composer named Michael Montes and the track is called Trillium Glance.  To my knowledge you can't buy it.  At least for now.  :)

Iron chef
11/3/2008 12:17 AM

Dear Bold Coffee Lovers,

All stores have been instructed to brew our Morning Pick offering for the week, Thanksgiving Blend, ALL DAY LONG on November 4th. That's right, you get your choice of Pike Place Roast, Thanksgiving Blend, and Decaf Pike Place Roast from open till closing at any company-owned and participating licensed Starbucks stores.

11/3/2008 6:18 AM

Matt can we have an answer to offering a free tall iced or hot tea after voting in addition to the free coffee? Thanks.

11/3/2008 8:32 AM

IronChef, thats great news!!! I can't wait to try Thanksgiving Blend. :-D

Matt, the music in that ad is beautiful. Maybe you could have that played in all the SB????

11/3/2008 8:40 AM

Great idea, except your missing some very important people. The people who work the polls. My wife for one will be working all day to help you vote. She will not be able to take you up on your offer as your stores will be closed when she is released from her duties. The poll workers need to be thanked too for doing an incredible tiring job.

11/3/2008 9:03 AM

Too bad you couldn't do this for your Canadian customers when we voted 2 weeks ago.

11/3/2008 12:10 PM

What about the people that have voted by mail?

11/3/2008 12:14 PM

Great Idea!!!

11/3/2008 12:23 PM

It  would be cool, if the cups said  I Voted.

11/3/2008 12:41 PM


11/3/2008 12:44 PM

RubyCon - the information out there has been that it's an "honor system" - I think if you merely say "I voted" that will be good enough! You should still get your tall brewed coffee. :)

I'm looking forward to trying Thanksgiving Blend!

And I still want the cups to say "Have you voted lately at"  I'm not joking. I want to get the message of MSI to more people - and this site has a voting system on it!

11/3/2008 12:45 PM

Steve1, you do NOT have to prove it.

Just say "I voted" and you will be taken at your word.  It's an "honor system."

11/3/2008 1:32 PM

Some states like Georgia have online voter status.  If you voted via absentee ballot, you could print off the status that confirms receipt of the ballot.  For Georgia the web site is

Iron chef
11/3/2008 1:55 PM

Wow, I've been watching the attendee numbers for the Facebook event about this....It's literally going up anywhere from 10-40 people every second......

I have a Coffee Master black apron still in its wrapping. I've always set it aside for a "special" occasion. This is definitely going to be it.....

11/3/2008 5:49 PM

Is there a way to get some of that fabulous coffee to those wonderful pollworkers, who may not be able to get away to ask for that cuppa?  Most of the pollworkers I know show up at 7:00 and don't leave until everything is wrapped up, so it's normally a 15-16 hour day.  Not sure how this would work, only know that some pollworker friends of mine were sighing about how they'd love a cup of the coffee, but wouldn't be able to get away to get it.

11/3/2008 6:21 PM

BTW, to make sure this is super clear:  don't worry about bringing in "proof" of voting.   This is a shared celebration of an important day in our history and we want to give free coffee to anyone who asks.  

Still, if you did vote, be proud and show off any stamps or stickers any way you can!

11/3/2008 6:28 PM

Steve1 and RubyCon:  Melody said it well.  We don't want to get caught up in the proof.  This is  about the party, the celebration of this historic day.  C'mon in and enjoy!

11/3/2008 6:40 PM

They MUST have that song in the full version, it's going to take off like a rocket, and I think the composer will be well recognized after that. Great ad!

I'm Totally Voting now, (not like I wasn't planning too, but this seals the deal)

11/3/2008 7:21 PM

Thanks Starbucks!  I was obviously planning on voting anyway, but this was awesome of Starbucks to do.  I even made an announcement about it this morning in my meeting at work!  

Not only do we get to try the new bold coffees being offered we get to try one for free! Thank you!

11/3/2008 8:23 PM

Jonweasel:  you might be right.  Happy to hear your enthusiasm.

Melody and Hayley:  Thanksgiving blend is indeed so good.  A combination of Sumatra and Guatemala beans, I think it has the best of both.  We developed this coffee with Tom Douglas.  You can read more about that collaboration here:

PS:  Thanks for making the announcement at your work, too, Hayley.

11/4/2008 4:55 AM


11/4/2008 5:40 AM

I think this is a great idea. But I'm upset that this commercial is such a blatant ripoff of the Girl Effect video.

BBDO should be ashamed of themselves. I don't believe this is Starbucks' fault and I am a regular customer. But the Girl Effect work is a very moving and important piece of media. Please visit that site if you want to be truly touched by something...

11/4/2008 7:01 AM

Wow, we were only given small coffees and were not allowed a choice of flavors.   That sucks, I would have loved to try the Thanksgiving blend.  And I think my husband would have as well.

11/4/2008 7:44 AM

I was SO excited to try Thanksgiving Blend today.........

Except they weren't brewing it. Instead it was Espresso Roast. Still a good coffee but TB would have been better.

11/4/2008 8:11 AM

I went to the Starbucks in my office building and was told that they weren't giving away coffee today.

11/4/2008 8:17 AM

Oh hey Matt!

Yeah I would have asked about it but my daughter isn't feeling well. I had to get it and go.  

11/4/2008 8:32 AM

Momiji, I think you in particular are going to enjoy Thanksgiving Blend.  Make sure you tell me what you think when you get a chance, ok?

11/4/2008 9:10 AM

I think I will to. LOL

I LOVE Sumatra..................prrrrrrrrrr. What's the percentage of Sumatra and the other bean in TB?

11/4/2008 9:25 AM


These kinds of moving text ads have been around for a very long time and have been on the web since at least 2000. The girleffect was not the first or the best of the genre.

11/4/2008 9:29 AM

All I have to say is this sucks.  The Starbucks at our location at 11010 NE 8th Street in Bellevue, WA is not offering any free coffee.  I thought this applies to all Starbucks locations?

11/4/2008 9:32 AM

Xaneth, is that a liscensed location?

11/4/2008 9:37 AM

What's up with the possibility that this reward for voters "might violate state and federal laws because it specifically targets voters" as the Sacramento Journal is reporting?  

As I said on my blog covering this ( no good deed goes unpunished!!

11/4/2008 10:10 AM

Nice idea, but, poorly done.  The non-company owned or freestanding stores (ie, in Target, grocery stores, hotels, etc.) are NOT honoring the free coffee.  This is a stain on the company reputation.

I tried to get my free cup this morning at the Target in Wesley Chapel, NC after voting.  Not only did they say they could not honor the deal...they could not made espresso drinks because their machine was broken.  This is sad, because it is a new location that has only been open a few months.  This is the third time we couldn't get a latte or machiato while shopping at this Target store.  

Starbucks really needed to include the franchisees in the promotion.  It would have generated a lot of collatoral sales at good profit margins.  Plus it would have attracted a few new customers.  Coffee drinkers tend to be very passionate.  Starbucks usually gets this.  Turning off potentially passionate people by excluding certain stores is not good for their guests or their shareholders...

11/4/2008 10:43 AM

Great idea Starbucks, BADLY EXECUTED.  I voted and promptly went to the nearest Starbucks, inside the local Target store.  We were told, "Because we are in Target, we don't do that."   Okay, so I went to the next nearest store, in a Harris Teeter grocery store, same story.  

If you are going to run something like this, please specify stand-alone stores only or, better yet, get your act together and include your partner agreements.  Duh!!!!

11/4/2008 10:53 AM

Today I had my first unpleasant experience at Starbucks. I went to the store on Parmer/McNeil - Austin, TX and while waiting for my drink, I over heard the young woman making my drink tell her co-worker that Obama is technically ineligible to run for president because he was born in Africa. I politely said, "Excuse me, I am sorry to interrupt, but he was born in Hawaii." As the young woman handed me my drink she said "I know a lot about this, I worked on the Ron Paul campaign. He was born in Africa." - I have no problem hearing staff criticize any of the candidates, but I was shocked to hear something so willfully ignorant.  I had to resist the urge to ask her if Obama was an A-Rab and a socialist as well - ugh,

11/4/2008 11:16 AM

Thank you very much for the free coffee on election day.  Most days I pay for my Starbucks brew and leave with it right away.  Today, it was free and I hung out and talked to a bunch of other voters who were enjoying the coffee and the new spirit of community.  Great idea!

Iron chef
11/4/2008 2:50 PM

WOO! What an amazing 7am-11:30am shift today! I was there, working the register, and witnessing first hand how excited customers were about this promotion!

There was mutual excitement. My eyes lit up and my voice squeeked "YEAH!" every time I took an order for a tall cup of coffee. In turn, my customers eyes lit up and their voices squeeked "THANKKKKKK YOU!!!" when I handed their cup of Thanksgiving Blend.

I work in one of the busiest stores in the company which meant logistics were a big focus going into the event. This morning when I walked in, I went over my game plan with my shift supervisor and food runner and strategized how we were going to ensure that coffee would always be available, no customer would have to wait, and people were able to smile as they went out to vote, go to work, or just absorb the excitement of the day.

It rocked!

11/4/2008 6:17 PM

Thank you for sharing your comment, penzig.    Loved your story.

11/4/2008 6:21 PM

IronChef:  as always, love your enthusiasm.

BTW, a special shout out to Bay Area Starbucks Partners:  I went in or walked past at least a dozen stores in San Francisco today and you were doing a great job dealing with the long lines--especially this morning.  Your high spirits and great attitudes were shining brightly.

11/10/2008 10:47 AM

Am I the only person who felt saddened that after witnessing Christmas become overly commercialized, our electoral process is next? That my vote was up for commercial sponsorship?

11/11/2008 4:33 PM

How about free refills everyday instead of some gimmick like free on election day.  

11/13/2008 8:10 PM

danhasch - free refills are part of the "registered card" benefits:  I don't think the election day free coffee was part of a "gimmick." I think it was part of the goodwill of Starbucks to just do something nice on an important day.  That's a very Starbuckian thing to do!

11/13/2008 8:17 PM

^ Oh weird - that was me up above at 8:1o pm.


11/19/2008 9:17 PM

So, Sbux,  is it true or not that you changed this idea to give *everyone* free coffee because it is illegal to offer someone something in exchange for voting? Not your fault if so, but state the truth not just "to make it easier".

11/24/2008 5:46 PM

This was a good idea but poorly executed.

I work in a licensed store that was asked by our corporate offices to participate, we were told that we wouldn't get many takers!!!! Huh> we gave away more than 500  cups out, without additional staffing or enough supplies to back up the draw on our supply  of cups and coffee! We have to order a week in advance and don't keep a huge backstock due to space. Next time give a bit of lead when "your lightbulbs" go on!!! Or save it for next time.

12/2/2008 3:03 PM

Last week we asked the following question: Which Ideas in Action post has been viewed the most? We then

12/5/2008 10:19 AM

I think starbucks should do a commercial, and in the commercial it would be a fast food restaurant(aka mickey d's) and teh commercial would show the restaurant just throwing all your food in a bag and serving you a smashed hamburger, and at the end the commercial will say; are these the people you want making your coffee?


12/15/2008 10:05 PM

This idea, communicated mostly thru the media and word of mouth, definately drove customers into our stores.  All I would ask is in the future to please give the stores more notice and more details of how it is being advertised.  We were SO SHORT on labor that day, not fun;0(

4/3/2009 9:39 AM

What has happened to my cranberry/apple muffins.   So very popular and now discontinued - please bring them back!!!

12/15/2009 6:49 PM

This was a great community service/good citizen step on the part of Starbucks. My only suggestion -- make it coffee or tea for those of us who don't drink coffee.

Judy McCord
4/18/2010 4:50 PM

There's nothing like feeling rewarded or getting a freebie thrown in the mix once in a while.  

Wouldn't it be nice for those of us who are loyal starbucks customers to get a free coffee once in a blue moon?  Not just a black cup of coffee but your favorite drink!  After you reach X amount of dollars on your starbucks card, you get a free drink, eh?  A little incentive to use a starbucks card too which will help starbucks track their customers who like to spend.  Win! Win!  


11/2/2010 11:44 AM

Is this on this year?

11/13/2011 1:07 AM

great idea

11/6/2012 8:09 AM

Would be a great idea...but my son, husband and I got up early so we would have time to stop by StarBucks after voting...and even though the ad says nationwide our Starbucks in Shelbyville, IN was not doing that promotion, they are offering a bracelet instead...who wants a bracelet compared to a large StarBucks coffee?

Sign me,


1/27/2013 9:20 PM

That's amazing Thank you For sharing this perfect idea!!

Sign In to make a comment.

Ideas so far

Popular Tags