Starbucks Launches SRCH - QR Code Scavenger Hunt

Starbucks and Lady Gaga starts a two-week scavenger hunt using QR codes on in-store banners, magnetic chalkboards and posters. Customers scan the code and they’ll see a series of clues in the coffee retailer’s seven-round scavenger hunt. “SRCH by Starbucks featuring Lady Gaga,” as the initiative is called, will start with the in-store QR code scan and take customers through a series of cerebral and digital clues.

Players will be tasked to visit certain blogs and Starbucks digital properties, decode cryptic messages and put their math, logic, reading and pop culture thinking caps on.

The clues, arranged into rounds, have been calibrated to encourage group play. Round one starts Thursday — the first players to solve all the clues will be rewarded with Starbucks- and Lady Gaga-related prizes.

Matthew Guiste, director of global social media for Starbucks, anticipates that it will take players from one to several hours to complete each round. “We hope to encourage group play and sharing,” he says. “We wanted to make it so that there’s things to talk about and share.”

The game, says Guiste, was inspired by three things: Alternate reality games such as I Love Bees, digital scavenger hunts in the vein of Jay-Z’s Decoded book release game and puzzle play.

For Starbucks, the scavenger hunt is meant to help the company build deeper relationships with its most engaged customers. It also sees the initiative as a way to connect the store — what Starbucks refers to as the “third place” — to Starbucks Digital Network, its content network and “fourth place.” Ok, so now I get why they rebranded earlier this year and dropped the name from their logo.

To play along, sign up here.

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