Starbucks’ Magic Cup Brings Back Delight

There’s something about Christmas that makes it special, especially when you’re young. Something often missed in holiday preparations and marketing, something that gets trodden on when Christmas is a matter of annual routine. That something is delight.

Delight is waking up first thing in the morning and emptying out your stocking. It’s the first time you ride with your parents to see a light show at a house in the wealthy part of town. It’s meeting Santa when you’re finally old enough to understand that he’s magical and not just a stranger in a red suit. And it’s almost impossible to recapture once you’re old enough that you’re the one buying the ornaments and filling the stockings.

But Starbucks has managed to capture a glimmer of that delight with its holiday marketing, using technological tricks that seem almost like magic. If you’re a Starbucks fan, take your smartphone and download the “Magic Cup” app. Then point your camera at Starbucks holiday cups, bags of coffee and signage around the shop. Augmented reality is a total gimmick, but the holiday season is gimmicky by nature. That’s no reason to enjoy it.

This video will spoil the fun of discovery, but it’s worth a watch if you want to see what they’ve done. I particularly like the collection aspect of the app — already I’m wondering where to find the other four characters I haven’t seen yet. Sure, the magic cup might be boring and rote by this time next year, but right now I’m completely delighted.

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