Centuries from now, if the Internet and all our iPadish digital culture have been destroyed by roving asteroids or neutrinos that heat the Earth’s core, we hope future anthropologists dig up this 28-page mini pocket guide to VIA powdered coffee from Starbucks, because it covers almost all of current Western Civilization. VIA, as you must know, comes in 12-packs of tiny tubes for $9.95 giving Starbucks fans a mobile morning jolt for only 82.9 cents per cup, provided you provide the hot water. This of course is a barrier to entry for coffee aficionados, who are used to dropping about $8 for a fancy java and pastry at the ambient-grooved Starbucks chain. So how can you convince hipsters to get the cheap stuff while not cannibalizing the core?
The pamphlet brilliantly teases with Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced uses for powdered coffee. The Meeting and The Red-Eye for novices (“You think airline food is underwhelming? Try generic airline coffee…”) explain the basics of capitalistic culture. The intermediate Soccer Game, Hotel and Aunt Harriet assess our peripatetic ambulatory relationships. And, our favorite, the advanced Guest Chair on a Late-Night Talk Show (“Wow. You’re culturally relevant enough to be asked…”) shows how we move up Maslow’s pyramid from greedy consumption to book tour self-actualization. It’s humanity writ large, written small. We’re guessing this brochure costs about $1 a pop, but since it’s picked up by only the self-selecting discriminant-yet-cheapo coffee fans standing in line at Starbucks, it’s a solid impression that tempts us to drop $10 on a packet of powdered coffee. Starbucks, all we can say is, nice marketing — and thank you for documenting culture for our children.