Bubble T to a tee

McDonald’s in Germany starts a marketing drive for its Bubble Tea range today.

bubble t

In case you’re not the target market – which looks to me like 10 to 15-year-olds – or you haven’t noticed teenies walking around with big transparent plastic beakers containing sickly coloured fluids, slippery fruit pieces and jelly blobs (and you’ve not yet been zapped by the bright lights of city-centre outlets anywhere from Texas to Taiwan), allow me to introduce you to the latest craze to motivate street-wise modern youth to beg mum and dad for more pocket money.

This has to be the epitome of experiential marketing. When the original Bubble T/tea first gained awareness here – through Bubble T Store – kids were queueing down the street. I missed it, but probably because I didn’t get sucked in by the online hype and classroom rumours.

I did however venture into an outlet in the weeks that followed, instantly doubling the average age of the clientele. The ordering routine is similar to Subway and McDonald’s. A mind-boggling list of options, combinations, extras and opt-outs. I was amazed I got my first order right, without prompting.

So how will the copycat concept do at McDonald’s, which unlike bubble tea hasn’t exactly got a Far Eastern heritage? Will being a fast-follower allow the big M to dupe teenagers into thinking they’re the originator of the trend, not the bandwaggon rider?

I don’t think so. The Bubble T Stores are about brash colours, neon menu boards, white and a bit more white, plus … iPads, Facebook and bubble cushion seats.

Teenagers know a Mac-mimic me-too when they see one, or try to swallow it’s ingredients. And although McDonald’s is already about experiential marketing and the brand name, product ingredients, packaging format and suspiciously slimy chunks are child’s play to copy, the Bubble T “experience” has enough manga, Hello Kitty and social media in its Far East DNA to differentiate itself from any copy cat.

To mark the occasion I took a picture of myself enjoying the spit or swallow experience on an iPad embedded in the Bubble T Store walls.

It didn’t get posted to their Facebook page. I’d probably drag down their image and put them more into the mainstream occupied by McDonald’s.

Alex Woodruff

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